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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020

Children are more likely to turn to their pets than siblings during tough times

A new study has found kids who faced adversity had a stronger relationship with their pets.

Image: Shutterstock/holbox

CHILDREN ARE MORE likely to confide in their pets than their siblings, according to a new study.

This is despite, as you may have noticed, most animals being unable to respond to their problems.

Researchers believe the therapeutic effect is similar to writing in a diary.

The study consisted of repeated surveys of 100 children over a ten-year period, starting from the age of 12.

Included in this were questions about the child’s relationship with their pets, such as how close they felt to the animal and how often they interacted.

The results revealed that children who experienced bereavement, divorce, instability, illness, were from disadvantaged backgrounds or faced other kinds of adversity were likely to have a stronger relationship with their pets than their peers.

Matt Cassels, researcher at the University of Cambridge and author of the study, noted the children were still likely not to perform well at school and experience mental health problems.

“It is really surprising that these children not only turn to their pets for support when faced with adversity, but that they do so even more than they turn to their siblings,” Cassels said.

This is even though they know their pets don’t actually understand what they are saying.

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“The data on pet relationships stood out as it had never occurred to me to consider looking at pet relationships although I had studied children’s other relationships for some time and even though my own experience of pets while I was growing up was so important.”

Cassels noted that in the United States, pets are more common in households than resident fathers.

Read: An old man punched a bear in the face to save his tiny dog, is a legend >

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Nicky Ryan

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