Keeping fish can help children cope with the stress of exams


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The most common age for stress in children is between nine and 11-years-old, coinciding with exams in year six. Keeping fish helps to create a calming atmosphere and even boosts development at school!

Fish are the most popular pet in the UK with around 33 million fish making up some of the 54 million pets owned by households across the country. This isn’t surprising when you consider the positive impacts fish can have on children including creating a relaxing environment, boosting development at school and improving social skills! 

New research by aquatics manufacturer Tetra, has found that children with pets perform swimmingly in school, meeting or exceeding teacher’s expectations by almost 10% vs children without any pets. When it comes to interacting with others, those with pets are also more confident and friendly.

The type of pet also has an impact on children’s performance outside of school with over half (51%) of parents believing that keeping fish had a calming effect on their child, whilst teaching them responsibility (55%), developing social skills (19%) and encouraging cognitive development (17%).
With SATS season here, fish can make a particularly great pet for providing a relaxing environment in the home. Especially when you consider that the most common age for stress in children is between nine and 11-years-old, coinciding with exams in year six.
Dr Angharad Rudkin, Child Psychologist and Tetra spokesperson said: “It’s not surprising to hear that children are suffering from stress as they reach year six when the pressure of SATS exams becomes apparent. Keeping fish is a great and safe introduction into the world of pets for young children helping to teach important, transferrable skills that will benefit them throughout school and into adult life.
“Not only are different species fascinating to watch but they also provide the perfect opportunity for children to learn about various types and their behaviour. Introducing a pet to the family helps development in young children and creates a calming atmosphere in the home, benefiting the entire family.”
7.5 years old is the average age that children in the UK are given the responsibility for the day-to-day care of pets, with one in ten children owning a fish. Fishkeeping has doubled in popularity from 10 years ago, where only one in 20 pet households had fish. Brits are most likely to take up fishkeeping as they believe aquariums look good in the home (61%), require little maintenance (49%) and create a relaxing environment (37%).
 Dr Angharad Rudkin’s tips for relieving stress in children:

  • Talk to your child about their stress – let them know that we all get these feelings, and they do pass.
  • Take up a new hobby with your child to help them relax. Fishkeeping is great at providing a calming atmosphere within the home but also helps to teach your child key skills such as responsibility. Plus choosing fun ways to decorate their aquarium will boost positive feelings helping to relieve stress.
  • Exercise is a great remedy for stress. Make the most of the warmer weather and lighter evenings by going for a walk or a scoot with your child or letting them join you in your evening run.
  • Brave talk is a simple but effective way of feeling less stressed. This basically means telling yourself  “I am strong, I can get through this”. Help your child to practice saying this every morning, and just as they are about to start an exam. They will soon start to believe it.
  • At times of stress, children ask more of their parents as they seek more reassurance and comfort. Make a bit more time in your diary to be there for your child, and spoil them with hot chocolates and their favourite dinners (and don’t worry, they won’t then expect these for ever more!)