Dogs Can Help Children Develop Confidence and Empathy


If your child has been begging you for a dog, and you are wondering whether to add another member to your family, maybe the article I read in Global Animal could help with the exploration.

Writer Ella Jameson points out that children who have pets (or access to one) benefit from:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Develop empathy
  • More resilient from stress

Young children feel successful when they can help their parents take care of their dog.  It can be filling the water bowl.  Or as they grow older, take the dog for a short walk.  These successful feelings contribute to confidence and self-esteem.

Children looking after their dog have opportunities to tune into the needs of their pet, helping them to develop empathy.  Besides, who better to teach a child empathy than a dog?

A survey was done on military children who move around a lot.  Those who have contact with a dog are more resilient from the stress of moving so often.

Cathy Stanley-Erickson

Here’s an excerpt from Ella Jameson’s article:


Repeated studies show a link between caring for a pet and higher levels of self-esteem in children. One reason for this is that having a pet gives even quite young children the opportunity to develop feelings of competency as they successfully help their parents care for a dependent animal. Although what is suitable varies by age group, even a three year old could give a dog a bowl of water, while adolescents can take the family dog for a walk, give them medication, or bathe them.

Pets are also a continual source of unconditional love and affection, leading children to rate the family pet only behind their parents in terms of what makes them feel good about themselves.


Who doesn’t want their child to be empathetic? It’s essential for building close personal relationships and, at a societal level, resilient communities where people help each other.

 Developing strong empathetic abilities in childhood is also linked to emotional intelligence in adulthood.

This doesn’t simply mean raising ‘nice children’ who go on to be ‘nice adults.’ Those with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to have greater success in their careers and increased earnings. Unsurprisingly, people with high EQ tend to make better leaders, too.

Resilience to stress

A survey of military children, who have to cope with moving frequently when parents are deployed, showed a strong link between contact with animals and an increased ability to deal with stressful situations. Children who had a parent deployed coped better if they spent quality time with an animal than if they didn’t. This included the ability to find social support and form close friendships as well as self-reliance.

You can read the entire article here.


Article source:  Global Animal

Image source:  Cathy Stanley-Erickson  on


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *