Pet ownership has many benefits for children, from teaching them responsibility, to developing language skills and providing support in times of stress. There are also advantages for the family as a whole: it has been found that families with pets have fewer and less serious relationship problems, as animal care helps children to develop empathy and be more selfless in their human relationships. Dealing with animals encourages children to have respect for others, but it also helps them to build a positive self-image, children who interact with animals tending to have much higher self-esteem than those who don’t. As animals communicate through body language, children who live and play with them learn to interpret this, which in turn helps them to read human body language and so have stronger social skills. Playing with and caring for animals helps to build spoken language skills too, as well as developing concentration. This aspect is particularly beneficial for children with special needs such as Down’s Syndrome or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Animal interaction captures their attention and so develops their ability to concentrate. Perhaps most importantly, animals can support children in times of stress or change, or when human relationships are strained.