More than half of all U.S. households have a companion animal. Households with children are more likely to have pets but there are still more pets in American households then there are children. Pets are believed to be beneficial on physical, social, and psychological health. I will specifically examine the effects of pets on child development along with the pros and cons of a household pet on children.
History has proved that animals play a significant role in customs, legends, and religions of humans. Human-animal relationships were very important to primitive people's survival and petkeeping was common in hunter-gatherer societies. More recently, our population has increased pet ownership. Some reasons for the increase in ownership is to satisfy the need for intimacy, nurturance, and contact with nature. Animals have been used to promote physical and psychological health. In 1792, animals were used as part of treatment for mental patients in England in attempt to reduce the use of harsh drugs and restraints.
In 1919 animals were first used in the United States in a therapeutic setting. From 1944 to 1945, the Army Air Corps Convalescent Hospital used dogs as companions for resident patients in the psychiatric area. The use of animals in outpatient psychotherapy was encouraged for patients recovering from war experiences. The patients were encouraged to work with the hospitals farm. Modest efforts to incorporate animals into treatment of psychotherapy patients began after the war. In the 1970s, studies of animals facilitating therapy with children and senior citizens were becoming more
apparent (NIH, 1987).
Childhood is a period where many developmental tasks begin to evolve. Some of these tasks include acquiring a sense of basic trust and self-esteem, the sense of responsibility and competence, feelings of empathy towards others and the achievement of autonomy. These tasks are believed...