Are you apprehensive about fulfilling your teenager’s request for a dog or a cat? As having a pet is much like having another child, some parents hold off on the idea of bringing a canine or feline into the home. Though you’re not wrong to have some hesitation, the truth is, a pet can do wonders for your teens both physically and mentally.
As you’re already aware, being a teenager comes with many challenges. Stuck trying to identify with their peers while also finding their true selves, the road between childhood and adulthood is a trying one. At times when your teen is struggling with the change their pets are often who they turn to. Here’s why:
Pets Break Down Emotional Barriers
As your teen has gotten older, the love and affection they once showed outwardly kind of fizzles away. Although it may not have a serious underlying cause, becoming too withdrawn can cause emotional issues down the line for your teen. A pet, on the other hand, demands attention and affection.
Their barking or meowing will grab the attention of your teen giving them an outlet to express themselves. Though they might be able to avoid your hugs and kisses, they’ll be more open to giving their dog or cat some TLC. For teens who are struggling with mental illness issues like depression, an ESA pet letter from a certified therapist, could give them the opportunity to adopt a therapy dog or cat that can aid them further in overcoming their emotional problems.
Pets Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Though the only thoughts running through your mind might be how utterly destructive a new puppy can be, pets actually help to reduce the stress and anxiety in teens. Caring for and playing with a dog or cat can help to relax the mind. The joy a pet brings can significantly increase the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease the stress hormone known as cortisol.
Pets are Always There to Listen
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice, most teens believe that parents don’t understand what they’re going through. Although you may have an idea, sometimes, your teen stops communicating with you. While it is good to have other role models in place they can talk to, sometimes your pet could be just what the doctor ordered. As pets are always by your side to listen, your teen can feel free opening up to their dog or cat without fear of judgment or punishment. What’s even better is that pets are great at keeping secrets!
Pets are Great for Discipline and Responsibility
As your teen gets older, they must understand the importance of responsibilities and discipline. Though household chores, ground rules, and consequences can set the stage, it can sometimes be met with resistance. Caring for a pet, on the other hand, is looked at as something fun to do and less of a chore. Daily walks, feedings, and grooming will be required which teaches your teen to prioritize and tend to the needs of their pet. While failure to care for the pet quickly shows consequences for procrastination (for instance a dog who isn’t walked will use the bathroom in the home) which can also be a life lesson your teen can apply to school, home, and in the real-world.
Pets Help Improve Physical Health
A dog, for instance, requires a great deal of exercise and active play to remain happy. As your teen strives to please their furry friend, they will be inclined to participate in more physical activities. Whether walking the dog or playing a game of fetch, tending to the needs of the dog get your teen up and moving which promotes positive physical health. More exercise leads to healthier weight control, improved energy, and minimizes the risk for things like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity which are common health problems for teens.
The adolescent years are some of the most difficult years to go through. As your teen is anxious to fit in with others and accept their own identities there will be trials and tribulations along the way. If you have a teen who is struggling emotionally or having a hard time adjusting to being a teen, maybe a therapy dog or new pet is what you need to turn things around. Sure, this means adding another body to your family, but the benefits of having a pet in the home will impact your teen now and for years to come.