Animal-Assisted Therapy Can Help Kids With Anxiety, Depression

Most children love animals. The joy in an child’s face at the sight of a dog, a cat, or a guinea pig is something all parents love to behold. It’s also something scientists say can be an especially good thing for children who suffer with anxiety disorders or depression. Whether they participate in special animal-assisted therapy, or their families simply open their homes up to a pet, this human-animal bond has many benefits.

Play and pets: The physical and emotional impact of child-life and pet therapy on hospitalized children

Scientific study has shown that when hospitalized children played with pets, they showed physical signs of decreased stress and self-reported feeling less stressed, too. The ability of animals to decrease a person’s blood pressure and calm them has been well-documented in adults, as well.

WebMD – Pets for Depression and Health

Bringing a pet into the home can offer an anxious and depressed child uncomplicated love. Animals are easy to understand and relate to. Giving your child some responsibilities related to the pet can give them a sense of mastery, given that it’s done in a supervised manner and the animal is cared for even if the child forgets.

Obviously, if animals make your child nervous or cause further anxiety, a pet might not be the right choice for your family. Don’t try to force any child into an interaction with an animal they don’t want. It can not only make the child’s anxiety worse, but the animal may act out if it senses the child’s anxiety.