Family pets are not only cuddly animals that give and receive nurturing, they also lower stress levels not only in ordinary life, but also for children undergoing trauma. For example, during the two week period after the tragedy of 9-11 in New York City psychotherapists found that dogs were helpful in lowering stress levels in children simply by being petted.
USING PETS FOR EARLY INTERVENTION FOR CHILDREN UNDERGOING TRAUMA
The aim of early intervention with traumatized children who lose loved ones and may have witnessed tragic events is to help them contain overwhelming experiences, so that the first responses of shock—such as compulsively driven play, recurrent recall of the traumatic events, nightmares, heightened distress at reminders of the tragedy and flashbacks—don’t become chronic.
MORE REASONS CHILDREN BENEFIT FROM CONNECTIONS WITH PETS
Children of all ages repeatedly beg their parents for all different kinds of pets, large and small, because the animals provide a feeling of being wanted and loved. Some children who don’t feel understood by adults at times seek their pet for consolation.
WHY ARE DIFFERENT PETS CHOSEN?
Children also learn how to nurture by having pets and often give them the love they wish to receive. The choice of a pet is very interesting because if you listen carefully to why the child prefers one pet over another, you can start to learn what they need emotionally.
A little hamster can be fed like an infant satisfying even an older child’s need to be babied by babying the pet—giving what they wish to receive but feel too old for. Some cats cuddle and others don’t reflecting the child’s choice for a warm being that they can be close to or isn’t too encroaching. Some children want frisky dogs, others want lap dogs, each satisfying different needs.