Children under 11 suffer extreme anxiety in lockdown, study finds

Chris Evans admits to feeling 'irritable' during mental health chat

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A third (32 percent) have witnessed an increase in mood swings and 28 percent noticed a deterioration in their confidence over the past year or so. And this may have had a knock-on impact on educational development too as six in 10 parents believe their children’s ability to learn has been affected, especially with regards to reading. The research was commissioned by insurers More Than, which has partnered with charity Dogs for Good, to highlight how dogs can improve kid’s confidence, wellbeing and ability to learn and read.

And this heart-warming video featuring Jo Whiley, shows just how our canine friends can help.

Accompanied by Fleck the dog, the presenter and DJ reads classic kid’s book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, to show how reading to our furry friends encourages children to pick up a book.

Jo Whiley said: “It was a real experience reading with Fleck today.

“There’s something incredibly soothing about sitting with a dog and just being tactile – stroking the dog and just feeling the warmth that comes from them.

“And I think that’s why it’s very important to read with your dogs – it actually does help.”

A separate study of 2,000 parents, commissioned by the charity and insurers, also found four in 10 (39 percent) said their kids have become less confident readers during the past 12 months or so.

While 41 percent think their reading age has stagnated in the wake of the pandemic and 49 percent have noticed their kids find it harder to focus when reading.

Four in 10 also believe their children have become increasingly stressed or anxious when attempting to read.

And these numbers are even higher among children with autism – with 64 percent of parents of children with the condition concerned their child’s reading skills haven’t improved during lockdown.

The initial 500 parent study, carried out through OnePoll, also found 18 percent of parents think having a pet dog improves or would improve reading skills for their child.

And they also believe their child is happier (33 percent) and has better structure to their day (22 percent) in the presence of a dog.

Talking about her own pets, Jo Whiley, added: “I have a much, much deeper appreciation, after lockdown, of our dogs.

“It’s been a tough year but we can get by with a little help from our furry friends.”

For inspiration on how to get more out of reading and details on the benefits reading with a dog can bring click here.

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