There is a widespread belief that interaction with an animal is beneficial for the development of children, and several studies (most with methodological shortcomings) have investigated the influence of (companion) animals on the social-emotional and cognitive development of children. In this article, the 1984 model of Professor Jay Belsky has been used to describe which variables influence the development of children and how the companion animal-child interaction influences these variables. The value of the AAA/AAT (Animal Assisted Activities/Animal Assisted Therapy) programmes in children with a wide variety of clinical and social problems, such as behaviour problems and autistic spectrum symptoms, is discussed. The findings suggest that (companion) animals positively influence children's development and have a valuable role in therapy.
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