How Having a Dog Helps Children Feel Less Anxious after Parents’ Divorce

A guest post written by psychologist Olivia Williams Jones from High Style Life.

Children can feel lonely and upset when their parents' divorce.

Going through a divorce is heart-breaking but when the kids are involved, too – it’s a million times harder. In such a situation, splitting up from your partner is no longer about just the two of you but those little souls as well who are absolutely clueless about the ways to process this change and – consequently – handle it. Further, for parents who aren’t careful about the way they are dealing with their decision to get separated, a divorce may be an extremely traumatic experience for a child, causing long-term consequences on their self-confidence, self-image, emotional state, and overall understating of family values.
However, when things are well-thought-out and dealt with maturity, the negativity of divorce may be eliminated, leaving the child with no upsetting feelings and traumas. One of the ways to help your child deal with your divorce is to get them a pet.

We’re listing key benefits owning pet can have on families coping with divorce.

A loyal, non-judgmental confidant

Often, no matter how well you are hiding the truth from your children, they sense it in the air. When parents are divorcing, children may feel abandoned, confused, and distressed. They’ll potentially feel like they can’t talk to you, which is why they need someone else to confide in. For most children, pets are their best friends with whom they can share their deepest fears. This helps with emotional resiliency. Pets listen attentively, never judge, and offer comfort. They “understand” and always love you back. This is exactly what children need at a time like this.

Security first

Pets have been shown to help children deal with various, potentially traumatic experiences way better than they would without a pet around. Such tragedies often include illness, loss of a loved one, and divorce. With a pet around, i.e. often a dog – children feel less abandoned and find consolation and security in their relationship with a furry friend of their choice. This is helping them isolate, both emotionally and mentally, and live a life unaffected (as much as possible) by their parents’ divorce.

Unconditional love

Boy with a husky dog from Pixabay. Having a dog can help children to cope with their parents' divorce.

Once again, it’s been proven that pets are a source of unconditional love and support, especially for children. Prior to and during the divorce, when there is so much insecurity and instability in a child’s life, a pet can be the bridge to sanity. Even though their living conditions are changing and their family structure getting a new, unfamiliar shape, their beloved dog is still there to love them and be by their side. Even such small, seemingly insignificant acts like petting the dog, walking it, buying it dog supplies or playing with it in the yard may mean the world to the children who are going through a process of accepting their new family dynamics.

Emotional and mental stability

Girl with a dog and balloon. From Pixabay.

Given that it has been established that owning a pet is highly beneficial for children, there are various types of pet therapies parents can rely on to help their children. They vary in approach, technique, and outcome. However, no matter the type of the chosen therapy, there are several psychological benefits that always come with a pet-child interaction (they do vary in intensity though, depending on the child’s sensitivity).

Some of the benefits include the increase in self-esteem as the child learns and performs new skills with their pet, improved self-confidence, as well as improved verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Further, kids are taught compassion and empathy and they learn how to demonstrate, offer, and receive unconditional love. It is established that, in interacting with pets, children improve their organizational and planning skills, build trust, and hone motor skills.

In such difficult situations like divorce, a pet will help a child make a connection that is based on unconditional love, closeness, and, most importantly, a relationship that’s free of judgment — an animal will not laugh at or bully a child. Besides, kids will learn responsibility for themselves and others while taking care of their pet. It is soothing to know that caring for a pet tends to calm anxiety, fatigue, depression, and pain, or make a child feel less lonely. Additionally, it helps develop social skills and improves interactions with others. From the medical aspect, the studies have shown that pets, i.e. petting your dog/cat, can actually lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure!

With the already difficult situation you, as a parent, are going through, give your best to spare your child the trauma and get them a pet – obviously, it’s the best choice you can make!

 

All images from https://pixabay.com

 

 

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Acknowledgements: Written by Olivia Williams Jones from more...