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A Pet Can Reduce a Child’s Anxiety
March 02, 2020
Category: Childhood Anxiety, Pets,

According to a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pet, especially a dog, may reduce your child’s stress levels. Pets come with some powerful mental health benefits. Here’s how caring for a dog or cat can help with depression, anxiety, and stress.

Pets can promote conversation, creating an important effect that alleviates social anxiety.

Did you know these facts about pets?

  • 36.5% of households in the US own a dog
  • 30.4% own a cat
  • 1.5% own a horse.

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with dogs reduces anxiety and arousal, alleviates separation anxiety and enhances attachment in children, thereby improving mental health and reducing developmental disorders.

The Mood-Enhancing Power of Pets

The immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals are obvious to most pet owners. However, many may not be aware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of snuggling up to a furry friend. Studies on the benefits of the human-animal bond have only recently begun.  

Pets are acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. Dogs can understand many of the spoken words, but they are even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. A loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you are thinking and feeling.

Pets, especially dogs and cats, can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. They can ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness. Caring for an animal helps children grow up more secure and active.  A pet can add real joy and unconditional love in a life.

While people with pets often experience the greatest health benefits, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.

Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe an adult or child who is stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost mood and ease depression.

Benefits of owning a pet

The health benefits for children

In addition to having less risk of allergies and asthma, children who grow up with pets also learn about responsibility, compassion and empathy with having a dog or cat.

As pets are never critical unlike parents or teachers. They are always loving and their mere presence in a home helps provide a sense of security in children. The ever-present pet can help ease separation anxiety if the child’s parents are not around.

A child feels important and develops a more positive self-image with the love and companionship of a pet.  When children emotionally attached to a pet, they are often better able to build relationships with other people. Though both the animal and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately around each other, studies have shown that pets can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids.

Children and adults alike can benefit from playing with pets, which can provide a source of calmness and relaxation, as well as a source of stimulation for the brain and body. Playing with a pet can stimulate a child’s imagination and curiosity. The rewards of training a dog to perform a new trick, for example, can teach kids the importance of perseverance. Caring for a furry friend can also offer another benefit to a child: immense joy.

Pets and the anxious child

Children with learning disabilities and other conditions

Some children with autism or other learning difficulties usually interact better with pets than people. Just as animals do, autistic children often rely on nonverbal signals to communicate. By learning to first connect with a pet can help an autistic child in interactions with people.

Pets can help children with learning disabilities learn how to manage stress and calm down, helping to overcome the challenges of their disorder.

Playing and exercising with a dog or cat can help a child with learning disorders stay alert and attentive throughout the day. It may also be a remedy to stress and frustration caused by the learning disability.

T’s Learning Center, Jacksonville’s top-rated daycare facility, understands the stress a child can experience and lovingly work. We encourage family love and togetherness every day and in every way. We are grateful for your trust as we care for your children.