You’ve heard the saying: “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
Pets have long been a part of people’s lives as companions. It’s no secret the benefits pets can provide for families and individuals living on their own.
Having pets, especially dogs and cats, creates companionship which can relieve feelings of loneliness and enhance connection. Coming home after a long day to meet your dog who is wagging its tail, excited to see you, can instantly perk up your mood and wipe your worries away.
Typically, the relationship between a pet and child is one of the first relationships a child navigates outside of their parents and siblings. The child begins to understand what it means to have purpose and responsibility. Setting up a routine of daily tasks such as feeding, walking, and washing your pet gives your child the opportunity to learn how to take care of something. Learning what it entails to care for your pet installs the confidence to take care of yourself.
As a teen therapist, I work with teenagers who struggle with anxiety and grief. I often ask teenagers, “What are things in your life that give you joy and calmness?” Half of the teenagers talk about how their dog (or other pet) gives them happiness and hope.
When I dig a little deeper, I usually find that kids, especially teens, struggle with feeling judged and accepted by their peers or family. It can be really isolating and lonely when you feel misunderstood by your friends or judged by loved ones. It’s a tricky time for teenagers who are figuring out who they are. They often feel the need to be accepted no matter where they are in their adolescent journey.
Feeling your dog’s unconditional love can be a perfect remedy for a young person’s stressful day. A pet simply laying his or her head on your lap or just sitting next to you, brings love and warmth. A child is reminded that their pet does not care what they look like or what they have done during the day. A pet can demonstrate love and acceptance which might be exactly what a child is looking for.
There are several emotional and relational benefits that pets provide for kids. Having a dog can be an especially great motivator to get kids outside and exercise. The benefits of getting outdoors, moving your body, and being mindful of your surroundings are great for reducing stress and anxiety. Kids can watch the positive impact that exercising has on their pets and be reminded of what great caregivers they are.
Owning pets, especially dogs, is a great way for kids to learn and navigate companionship, help ease worries, and increase their feelings of acceptance and security. ashleyhudsontherapy.com/