When it comes to family bonding time, kids prefer their dogs over their siblings, according to new research.
In a study conducted by scientists from University of Cambridge, it was discovered that the relationship between a child and their pet was more satisfying than those with their brothers or sisters.
It was also found that children tend to get along better with their pets than their siblings – a finding that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to parents.
The findings are based on a study surveying 12-year-old children from 77 families. The majority of the children stated their relationship with their pet was stronger than with their siblings. Households with dogs tended to have the strongest bond.
“Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people,” said Matt Cassells, lead researcher for the study, in a statement. “We wanted to know how strong these relationships are with pets relative to other close family ties. Ultimately this may enable us to understand how animals contribute to healthy child development”
Interestingly, in past studies about pet-children bonds, boys tended to state the relationship was stronger. For this study, it was the opposite.
“While boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways” Cassells said.
The study adds to the belief that having a pet can be beneficial to child development, having a positive impact on both their mental and physical well-being.
The new research adds to mounting scientific evidence that pets could have a big influence on child development, including positive impacts on social skills and emotional well-being.
‘Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” said Cassels. “The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.”