If you have a child, regardless of whether or not they have ADHD, you will likely hear the question, “Can I have a pet?” Chances are if your child is of a certain age you might have heard this question already. Many parents may dread that question, a household with a child with ADHD can be a hectic place to begin with. But bring a pet into the picture may actually be more manageable, and beneficial, than you think.
Whether or not you should have a pet in your home is a decision that is up to the family in question and depends on a number of factors including living arrangements, lifestyle, and cost. If for example there are large amounts of time each day where no one is home, it may not be the wisest choice to have a pet. Allergies may also be an issue.
However, certain benefits exist to having a pet:
Pets Teach Time Management
Specifically, pets teach scheduling. Whether it is a cat, a bird, or a dog, the pet has daily requirements. Dogs tend to have much more intensive scheduling needs, these include:
If you design this process with your child with ADHD, it can help to teach them the importance of including basic schedules and planning ahead to help guide them proactively throughout their day. ADHD and time management go hand in hand, so it is good to start instilling strong habits early on.
A Pet’s Love is Unconditional
Both cats and dogs can provide love each and everyday, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if your child is having difficulty completing their homework or is just frustrated in general, the pet will always offer their love.
Dogs Require Regular Exercise
Dogs require exercise, and as you may have seen several times before on this blog, exercise is a natural treatment for ADHD. Whether it is a walk in the park, playing fetch, or swimming together, it allows hyperactive and inattentive children to use up some of that excess energy constructively.
Animals Are Good Listeners
Everyone needs to vent now and then, and people with ADHD can sure have their fair share of frustrations. Having a pet can give you child a guaranteed and dedicated listener, and one that doesn’t pass judgements.
Animals are Calming
There are therapeutic benefits to having a pet as well. Petting a cat or a dog has repeatedly been shown to have a calming effect on people – even something as simple as watching a fish swim can induce this as well.
Having a Pet Teaches Responsibility
Kids will usually be quick to point out that they will take care of all of the work. While parents have their doubts (and rightfully so), having a pet teaches that responsibilities come first. Even if you have to pick up some of the work sometime, the child learns to take responsibility for another living thing.
Pets Have Health Benefits
People with pets tend to live longer, which is attributed to decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, all from having an animal companion around!
Animals Give Companionship
Having ADHD can be isolating. Children with the condition can quite often feel alone and certainly different. Having an animal friend around has been demonstrated to decrease those feelings.
Additionally, dogs and other animals have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of childhood autism and other developmental disabilities including ADHD. As such, it makes a great complementary ADHD treatment.
The pet doesn’t have to be just a dog or a cat though, there are lots of different choices available. Animals such as hamsters, lizards, and rats (which are surprisingly affectionate) can all provide similar benefits to your child.
That said, pets do take time, dedication, and responsibility. Talk through the decision with your family first before making the commitment, but it might be just what you need!