How Animals Can Help Children with Anxiety 

How Animals Can Help Children with Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues affecting children and teenagers today. Symptoms of anxiety in children can include excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, irritability, trouble sleeping, and avoiding social situations or activities. 

While therapy and medication are often used to treat anxiety, having an animal companion at home and also dogs in schools can also be extremely beneficial for anxious children. Here are some of the main ways pets can help.

Providing Comfort and Reducing Stress

One of the best things a pet can offer an anxious child is constant comfort and companionship. Stroking a dog or cat helps release oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone associated with bonding and affection. The rhythmic motion of petting an animal is soothing and can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

Pets serve as a source of unconditional love and acceptance which is vital for children with anxiety who may feel isolated or worried about judgement from others. Having a pet nearby can ease worries and make children feel more secure.

Canine assisted learning is very useful for anxious children. The Dog Mentor says therapeutic intervention using trained dogs can improve emotional resilience and give students the tools they need to manage stress and anxiety.

Encouraging Playfulness and Joy 

Playing with a pet stimulates children’s senses and enriches their everyday life with fun, joyful moments. Laughter and play causes the brain to release endorphins which elevate mood. Active playtime also serves as a healthy distraction from anxious thoughts. 

Taking a dog for a walk or running around with a puppy in the back garden gets kids moving and engaged. The increase in heart rate and oxygenation of the brain through exercise is proven to reduce anxiety. Games like fetch or training pets to do tricks help hold children’s focus and provide cognitive stimulation as well. 

The unconditional affection of pets and the sheer silliness they can bring encourages children to simply enjoy the present.

Teaching Responsibility and Providing Purpose

Having the responsibility of caring for a pet gives anxious children a sense of purpose and achievement. Tasks like feeding, grooming and training a pet help build their confidence. Achieving small goals, like getting a puppy to sit on command or having a kitten come when called, gives children a sense of control—something many anxious kids feel they lack. The routine of looking after a pet also provides structure and stability which is vital for children who feel anxious or overwhelmed easily. Knowing their pet depends on them helps motivate kids to get involved in their own care as well.

Pets provide anxious children with a non-judgemental companion that brings joy, comfort, and a sense of purpose into their lives. The unconditional love of an animal allows children to lower their guard and simply enjoy being in the moment. For kids who struggle with anxiety, having a furry friend can make a profound difference. 

With the proper adult guidance and preparation, a pet may be an excellent addition to managing and overcoming childhood anxiety.

Sanket Goyal

Sanket has been in digital marketing for 8 years. He has worked with various MNCs and brands, helping them grow their online presence.

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