Three quarters of parents believe the pandemic has had a negative impact on their child's mental wellbeing, according to a study.

Researchers polled 500 mums and dads, of children aged 6 to 11, and found 35 per cent have observed higher levels of anxiety in their kids during lockdown.

A third (32 per cent) have witnessed an increase in mood swings and 28 per cent noticed a deterioration in their confidence over the past year or so.

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.

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Mum embracing and comforting small crying daughter
It's been a tough year for kids, the survey shows (stock image)

DJ and presenter Jo Whiley has been helping to shows just how our canine friends can help read classic kid's book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, accompanied by a furry friend to encourage children to pick up a book.

Jo said: "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.

Jo Whiley is encouraging kids to pick up a book

"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 per cent) said their kids have become less confident readers during the past 12 months or so.

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

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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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent) and has better structure to their day (22 per cent) 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."