Hubert Montagner

Child and Animal The Emotions Which Liberate Intelligence Publication date : September 1, 2002

What could be more commonplace than the emotional ties that some children develop with cats and dogs or other pets? And yet, nothing could be more surprising than the fact that such ties, which are sometimes very close and intense, can exist between members of very different species. The history of humans and animals is the story of the meeting of two groups of strangers — and the meeting has been a particularly prolific one. The author traces the long history of this co-evolution, from the early domestication of animals for economic ends (such as warning or defence) to the keeping of animals as pets. Above all, he asks the question: What if animals contribute significantly to children’s psychological and emotional development? Based on years of research, this book describes everything that interaction with an animal can offer a child: appeasement, emotional security, self-confidence, as well as improved attention, enthusiasm for others, and imitation. This explains why animals can be of great assistance in overcoming certain disorders, including hyperactivity and aggressiveness. Montagner makes a strong case for developing ties between children and certain animal species, so as to take full advantage of the potential of these relations, particularly in places (schools, day-care centres, medical institutions) where young children are cared for.

Professor Hubert Montagner heads a research unit of INSERM, at the University of Bordeaux-II, specialising in the psycho-physiology and the psycho-pathology of development. He is the author of many works, including L’Attachement and L’Enfant et ses rythmes.