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The Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities on the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children with Characteristics of Emotional Behavioral Disorders

By Elaine K. Schmid

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Abstract

As emotional behavioral disorders become more prevalent throughout the school-age population, intervention during the early childhood ages is becoming key. Considering that social emotional delays are risk factors for emotional behavioral disorders and the evidence of social-emotional health in the early years leading to emotional well-being in adolescent and adult years, there is a significant need for social and emotional health in early childhood. Animal-assisted activities are ways to teach concepts such as selfawareness, self-regulation, social engagement, emotional understanding, and empathy to children in primary school. In this case study, four 6 and 7 year old children participated in animal-assisted activities with domestic farm animals. Child self-reports (Bryant Index of Empathy), parent-reports (Griffeth Empathy Measure), and behavioral observations (Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales) were all used to measure the change in empathy, social interaction, and social cooperation over the five sessions. Over the course of five one-hour sessions with farm animals, children showed an increase in empathy, social interaction, and social cooperation. This case study demonstrates the impact that animal-assisted activities can have on young children. Future research should investigate the impact of animal-assisted activities on larger, more diverse groups of young children.

Submitter

Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2011
Pages 114
Publisher University of Minnesota Duluth
Location of Publication Duluth, Minnesota
Department Education and Human Service Professions
Degree Environmental Education
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10792/261
Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Children
  5. Cooperation
  6. Disorders
  7. emotional behavior
  8. Emotions
  9. Empathy
  10. Farm animals
  11. Health
  12. Mammals
  13. Schools
  14. social development
  15. social interactions