Nearly everyone loves dogs, cats, and pets of all kinds. However, kids might love animals even more than adults. A pet provides children with a playmate, a cuddle buddy, and a mess-making companion all at once.
While kids and pets go together like peanut butter and jelly, children can actually experience health benefits from keeping animals as companions. Specifically, emotional support animals offer children comfort and stability, especially when that child or teen is dealing with trauma or a mental illness.
One out of seven U.S. children aged two to eight years have been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. While medication and therapy can help these adolescents manage symptoms and recover, in many cases, certified emotional support animals might be another great therapeutic option.
Here are just four of the many ways children and teens with mental health conditions or other life complications benefit from emotional support animals.
1. Children with Anxiety and Depression Find Something to Smile About
Pet therapy for depression and anxiety has been a successful method for combating symptoms like hopelessness, apathy, and general nervousness. The silly antics of a pet can help children smile or even laugh, which triggers a release of serotonin and other healthy and happy chemical responses. When adults struggle to help children feel happy or loved, a pet’s innocence and unbiased affection might do the trick.
2. ESAs Help Children with Autism Find a Special Friend
Certified emotional support animals have had huge success in helping children with autism. In fact, one study found 94% of parents of children who had autism said their child bonded strongly with their pet. Overall, the study found that children with autism who kept pets demonstrated greater social skills.
3. An ESA Can Help Kids Get Moving
Any kind of pet engages children in physical activity, which also encourages a boost of serotonin and other feel-good chemicals. Simply walking a dog for fifteen minutes or playing with a cat can help get children moving and feeling a bit better.
4. ESAs Offer Affection When Others Can’t
Finally, pets can be emotionally present and supportive for kids in ways that adults may not be capable of. A pet can always provide a judgment-free hug, which helps socially anxious teens find comfort through affection. Pets can also stay by children’s side through the night and offer immediate comfort after a nightmare. There’s no required training to teach a dog or cat the pure loyalty and affection that adolescents sometimes need most.
These benefits are only a few ways that emotional support animals can help children overcome mental illness, feel more loved, and find a sense of purpose. If your child is under the age of 13, talk to her doctor about whether certified emotional support animals can help her manage mental health conditions or other aspects of life. For more information about legitimate emotional support animal registration, contact Moosh today.