This weekend we were in the airport and we were reminded of how much animals are helping people cope and enabling them with their mental health. We saw 2 service animals (for mental health challenges) within one hour while waiting to board our plane. I thought it ironic that our blog topic this week was planned to be "Ways Pets Improve Mental Health." People are catching on that our four legged friends are not just companions for the blind or law enforcement but they can actually help those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and other struggles. Today let's talk about how they help us get out of "ourselves".
They Teach Us Responsibility
What's the first thing we do with our kids when we want to teach them responsibility? Well besides telling them to pick up after themselves and eat their fruits and veggies. We get them a pet- usually a small hamster or fish. Something they can take care of easily. Then we graduate into our favorite companions- dogs and cats! This is a great way to teach kids to take responsibility for something. They can feed, walk, and clean up after their little friend. It teaches them to think about something other than just themselves. When their cat rubs up against them because he's hungry or their dog barks because he wants let out, they have to stop what they are doing and tend to them. (Unless Mom rescues them every time. Oh no, Mom! Don't do that! ;) ) The great thing about this is animals are gracious. They will love the kids in return for taking care of them. So their are immediate rewards to their responsibility.
So if you're thinking about a pet, make it a growth opportunity for your kids!
Thank you for reading. Check back in tomorrow when Joleen shares another reason pets help us mentally.
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville