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Full member of the family, ally, comforter, companion comforting ... "his" animal represents a lot for a small. What special relationship does he weave with him and how does it help him grow?
A relationship of equals
- "Young children have a spontaneous tendency to go to animals," says Sandie Belair *, a psychologist and specialist in animal mediation. For a toddler, an animal is a person, just like their parents or siblings. He thus approaches it with great freedom of mind, as an equal and with a real desire to know him. An attitude favorable to the emergence of a pretty relationship.
- "Our daughter sees the cat as a full member of the family. Recently, she officially invited him to his birthday snack by drawing him an invitation! "Smiled Marine, mother of Inès, 3 years old.
A ball of tenderness
- The animal's manifestations - purring, licking, cuddling, wagging the tail, screaming - give the young child the feeling of being understood and heard: he often interprets them as signs of tenderness. His big eyes, his round forms, the softness of his hair, all this also triggers his affection. "Especially when it is small, the animal can easily be hugged by the young child. He can reproduce with him mothering gestures, such as those he saw his father and mother do, "notes Sandie Belair. Moments of tenderness that parents must always watch with one eye.
- "Igor loves his guinea pig so much that he sometimes tends to hug him a little! We showed him how not to squeeze him so as not to hurt him, "says Laurent, father of Igor, 2 years and a half.
An animated doudou
- "It has been observed that many children search for their pet's proximity when they feel sad, angry or frightened. They consider it as a safety base with which they come to reassure themselves. Thanks to its comforting qualities, the animal allows the reduction of the stress due to the worries of the daily life and the separations ", describes the psychologist.
- The dog, the cat, the hamster or the rabbit play a little role of the parents when they are absent or not available: it warms up, protects, keeps company.
- "When we growl Ines because she disobeyed, she will systematically take refuge with the cat. And redoubles her purring, as if to console her, "remarks Marine, his mother.
An ally, not a rival
- With an animal, no rivalry with respect to the love of the father and the mother as with a brother or sister: the little child sees that his parents treat them differently, he does not fear being dethroned. "What brings them closer, on the other hand, are the parental prohibitions, to which they must submit both, and the feeling sometimes also to be excluded both from certain conversations and family activities. Such complicity can soften frustrations, "says Sandie Belair.
- Thanks to this ally with hair and feet, a toddler grows up and acquires new skills: he makes the effort to decode the body language of his animal and thus learns to open to others, often he also develops certain motor skills by wanting to imitate him. A beautiful school of life!
Isabelle Gravillon for the parent supplement of Popi magazine, May 2016.
* Sandie Belair, psychologist and specialist in animal mediation, coordinated the journal Spirale, n ° 77, April 2016, ed. Érès.