Can Pets Really Decrease Stress In Children?

Can Pets Really Decrease Stress In Children?

We all know how beneficial pets are to adults and we know that dogs, in particular, are used as therapy animals for so many disabled people, of many different disabilities, from blindness to Autism but what about children without disabilities?

The ones who are just your normal, everyday, average child?

According to Medical News today, the answer is YES.

Today’s kids are way too stressed out.

Between bullying that has gotten way out of control, lack of adequate nutrition due to parents not being able to provide for their families, worrying about their unemployed parents, and the ever decreasing amount of play time kids have while at school, it’s no wonder our kids are emotionally overwhelmed. This is just a few problems our children are facing today.

In elementary schools in my town, recess has been reduced to one half-hour in the mornings and ten minutes at the end of the day.

They also only have gym class once a week. When I was a kid in the eighties, I had gym twice a week and two forty-five minute recesses.

Kids today are expected to sit still for longer periods of time, with little free time.

Add to the fact that in many states, if not all of them, the U.S. requires children starting in the third grade to take a state standardized test, which only adds to the child’s stress.

Why is this important you ask?

I am not just a parent but also a pet owner. I have three pets: one dog and two cats and I can honestly say that some days, these pets, just by being in my children’s presence, relieve so much of their stress.

My third grader loves to play with his cat. Luckily, the cat is very laid back but also likes to play as he is still young.

It’s nice to watch my son have so much fun playing with our laser pointer and watching the cat go nuts over it.

I have a small dog that is very much attached to me but he is so helpful when waking the kids up in the mornings. Instead of getting moans and groans from them, they wake up happy because they were woken up with doggy kisses.

What about dogs in general though?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a dog may very well be your child’s ticket to preventing childhood anxiety and obesity.

Dogs are very active and depending on the breed, most love kids. Dogs and kids just go together like peanut butter and jelly.

How pet dogs promote children’s behavioral and emotional development, mental health and physical activity.
How pet dogs promote children’s behavioral and emotional development, mental health and physical activity.

source : CDC

Kids love to play and dogs love to play so it should really not be so surprising that dogs can help keep kids active and when kids are active, they are less inclined to get depressed.

Mental wellness has often been linked to physical activity and these days our kids are getting less and less as the age of technology takes hold of their generation.

Physical activity affects the brain in a positive way and dogs, who are naturally inclined to run around and go for walks, help all of us get away from our TV’s and computers to be  outside in the fresh air.

There are many studies being done to help understand how pets are helpful in preventing mental illness and obesity in our children and while some studies show very little difference between kids with no pets and kids with pets, the difference is there.

As the researchers state:

“Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses to stress.”

I had all sorts of pets growing up and each one played a very important part in my life as my childhood was pretty rough.

I still remember my first best friend, a dog named King. I loved that dog and I still think of him to this day. I also remember in my teens, whenever I was distraught or got depressed, I had a cat that always came to cuddle with me every single time.

He just seemed to know I was hurting and the moment he laid with me, after several minutes, I would start to feel better.

That’s why I have pets now. I grew up with love from animals and I wanted my own children to have that experience.

There is nothing like the unconditional love of an animal to put things into perspective and make the world a better place.

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