Recently released study results show that losing a pet can impact children’s mental health for years to come. It also shows that boys are more sensitive to tragedies of this type than girls. The authors invite parents and specialists to be attentive to this distress.
The relationship that exists between a child and his dog, cat or any other pet can be very intense. We see it almost every day, especially through the beautiful friendship stories or rescue stories that we see.
As a result, the animal’s death is an extremely painful ordeal for its young human friend. The void left, as well as the incomprehension of the concept of death among the little ones, are all elements that make mourning difficult. A team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital has investigated the impact of the loss of a pet on child psychology, Study Finds reports.
An impact over several years
Led by Katherine Crawford, Erin Dunn and their colleagues at Harvard Medical School in Boston, it was published last September 10 in the school’s journal. According to this work, the death of a pet can cause mental disorders in children. Their effects could even last during their adolescence, since, in some cases, they can be observed up to 3 years after the onset of the tragedy.
“The impact can be traumatic,” said Katherine Crawford. Such an event is even likely to set the stage for some form of adolescent depression. . “We found that this experience of losing a pet was often associated with an increase in mental health symptoms in children,” continues the researcher, who adds that “parents and scientists must recognize the said symptoms and take them seriously, not just brush them aside”.
Boys more affected
The authors of the study recall that 63% of children living with a pet face its loss before their 7th birthday. Psychological problems linked to the death of the animal can therefore affect a large number of people.
By analyzing the data on 6,260 children, as well as the responses provided by them and their mothers, the researchers made another surprising discovery. They found more mental disorders following the loss of a pet in boys than in girls.
Erin Dunn urges adults to pay special attention to this sadness when it tends to last. According to him, this can be a manifestation of “complicated grief.” He says that “having someone to talk to … could help a bereaved child a lot.