Cats and dogs not only make children grow healthier and stronger. Scientists have also finally shown what animal lovers have long suspected: dogs and cats make little ones calmer, reduce the stress they suffer and make them emotionally stronger. And in this, the researchers say, the animals are even more effective than the parents themselves! Learn how cats and dogs calm children and how the friendship of these animals helps them cope with difficult situations with greater peace of mind .
Dogs and cats reduce children’s stress
What animal lovers suspected has now been confirmed by science. Animals can not only be great friends for children. Dogs and cats reduce children’s stress, provide great social support and help reduce anxiety, scientists say.
A team of researchers from the University of Florida (USA) has measured the beneficial effects that living with dogs has for minors and how the stress levels of these little ones, measured by the amount of corticosteroids in the blood, are reduced when they have a four-legged friend close by. “Many people believe that having an animal as a friend is good and relaxing for children, but researchers weren’t sure if this suspicion and these alleged benefits were scientifically substantiated or not,”.
How dogs calm children
This psychologist wanted to know if dogs are really capable of lowering children’s stress levels. And to find out if the relaxing power of four-legged friends is real, Kertes analyzed the friendship of a hundred dogs and the children with whom they share life. But something was still missing: to be able to measure children’s anxiety in potentially stressful situations for children. For this, children between 7 and 12 years old were invited to speak in public and also to solve arithmetic problems, activities capable of triggering the levels of corticosteroids, hormones that indicate anxiety.
And what was the result? The level of stress experienced by children, and measured with the corticosteroids present in saliva, decreases significantly when these activities are carried out in the company of their furry friends. And there is even more: minors are calmer with their dogs than when they have to carry out the activity alone, and even in the presence of their parents!
“Our study confirms that being close to a friendly dog reduces the stress suffered by children considerably; and that dogs are capable of reducing children’s anxiety in problematic situations, even more than parents themselves”.
Furry friendship is forever
A child who learns the value of cat and dog friendship is likely to appreciate this bond as an adult. And not only that, because the positive and calming effects that a furry friend provides in childhood can have lasting effects, even for life, scientists add.
“We know that learning to deal with stress during childhood has positive consequences for the emotional health and well-being of a person throughout life,” insists the psychologist. This explains that a good love relationship between children and animals can result in a better ability to cope with adult stress and, in general, with an improvement in the quality of life.
Dogs and cats are an emotional support for children
Prolonged stress can trigger serious diseases in the medium and long term. The ailments that can cause continued anxiety over time are, among others, depression, heart ailments and even diabetes.
The good news is that these animals, scientists have confirmed, can be a great help to lower anxiety levels in children. And they do it, in addition, in many ways. “Cats and dogs encourage children to speak, thus stimulating their conversation.