Rx: Take One Dog as Needed

One of the most exciting areas where the "healing dog" is making a difference is for pediatric patients. Here's a look at the latest findings from research on animal-assisted therapies and activities with dogs in hospitals.

The Nature Imperative

Children as they grow are developing a moral code that expresses concern about and commitment to conservation, habitat protection, and animal welfare. We can learn a lot from children's thinking about nature and the environment.

Screening Out Screen Time

We've become addicted to our screens, obsessively checking email, chomping at the Twitter feed, and buried in Facebook. The disquiet many of us feel turns to downright worry when we see our children growing up screen-saturated. Research suggests this may have serious consequences for development.

What Do Children Know About Climate Change?

Children are the future stewards of our fragile ecosystem. What does research tell us about what children know and feel about environmental threats, such as climate change? What are the best ways to educate and engage children on these issues?

Recess Is Endangered

High stakes testing, fear of litigation, budget crunches, and just plain ignorance are reducing and even eliminating recess for children. Yet a wealth of research establishes the benefits of recess for academic achievement, physical development, healthy weight, and social competence. It's time to make sure recess is an educational right for all children.

Greening the Playground

Greening play spaces is about far more than prettifying school grounds or parks. There's a direct payoff in enriching children's physical, emotional, and even cognitive development. Recent research documents how naturalized play spaces, with logs, stumps, boulders and water, gets kids moving, sharpens motor skills, builds empathy, and enhances appreciation of nature.

Into the Virtual Wild

Lions, rhinos, giraffes--all the big mammals of the African savanna mesmerize the imagination, even as humans drive them into extinction. But technology might help children connect virtually, while teaching about animal conservation and habitat protection. A "wild animal app" tries to do just that.

Why Kids Love Low Tide

Low tide, when the waters of the ocean recede, to reveal sandbars, tide pools,and sea creatures, is the kind of adult-free zone that children need. It's an example of a natural place where children can set the rules, or have no rules, run free and get stopped in their tracks by some weird and wonderful new experience.

What's In That Bird Brain?

Theory of Mind is the ability to understand the unseen, internal states of mind that underlie behavior. Could animals–those dogs, cats, birds or hamsters that share our homes–help children develop Theory of Mind?

A Natural Remedy for Caregiver Stress

Contact with nature helps everyone, but research shows that it can be especially helpful in reducing stress. Caregiver burnout is a well known challenge for family members who care for those with Alzheimers, severe disabilities or life-threatening illnesses. Along with respite care and support services, caregivers might benefit from a dose of green.

Parents Lose Jobs, and Children Suffer

Losing a job not only means a sharp drop in income for a family. Children pay a severe price for the hard economic times their parents endure. Research on how parental job loss impacts children documents a wide range of negative effects, many of which persist well into adulthood.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

There is a proven de-stressor that is free, available to most everyone and uncomplicated. Brought to you by Mother Nature, it's as simple as a walk in the woods, an hour in a city park, or a tramp through the snow. Research confirms that nature heals and calms. It can be beautiful too.

Going to the Dogs

Reading to dogs programs seem to be everywhere in libraries and schools. The idea behind them is simple: kids will enjoy reading more, and struggling readers will make more progress when they read to a friendly and attentive canine. The theory is that a friendly dog is calming, non-threatening, and by its simple presence, rewarding. What's the science behind these programs

Green Healing

Green Chimneys Children's Services is a national and world-wide model for a residential therapeutic milieu based on engagement with nature and animals. Take a peek inside as Green Chimneys treats children with severe educational and emotional challenges.

Worrying about Social Robots

Whether called “social,” “companion,” or “caretaker” robots, machines designed to fool us into accepting them as friends and helpers are off the drawing board and moving into our homes, schools, and hospitals. What’s not to like? Plenty.

Have a Heart

Many pet owners insist that their dog, cat—even fish or snake—are just what the doctor ordered. When animal-loving humans feel down, stressed out or out of sorts, their treatment of choice often is snuggling with Fluffy or romping with Fido. Now, the American Heart Association has given its seal of approval. Pets, especially dogs, are heart healthy.

Nature Nurture

Earth Day is rolling around again. Sadly, our children will inherit the clogged, dirty and warming planet we are leaving them. But children also are our last, best hope, the future stewards of our environment. We can act now to nurture in children a caring commitment to the Earth's welfare. Here's what research says about the importance of contact with nature for children.

Dog Is My Cotherapist

Many parents searching for an effective intervention for their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been drawn to therapies involving animals. What do we know about them? How well do they work? Here's what parents and all of us need to know.

Bringing Up Puppy

In the get-ahead pressure cooker that is modern childhood, how do children learn about being kind, caring, and nurturing? Caring for a pet responsibly may be an important training ground for children, especially boys, to gain skills in care-giving that will carry into adulthood.

Do Mass Killers Start Out by Harming Pets?

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School joins a long list of mass shootings. In a now familiar scenario, a troubled teenage boy unleashes mayhem, taking down children, adults, and ultimately himself in a hail of bullets. After the shock, we are left to puzzle over the clues missed. While there are no easy answers, animal abuse may be an important early warning sign.

The Healing Lick

The mother-of-all-flu seasons is here. A quick pick-me-up might me panting under the table or curled up on a sunny windowsill. Your pet may be surprisingly good medicine and just might keep you healthier. Here's what psychology research has to say about the health benefits of pets for children.