Kids Health

How Your Child Can Benefit from an Emotional Support Animal

As a parent, you probably have a lot to worry about. You want your child to grow up happy and healthy. You hope they will get a good education and choose a stable, profitable career. Maybe you hope to have grandkids someday. Children have plenty to worry about, too. They have to deal with getting bullied in school. They have to learn about the world around them while their brains continue to grow.

Like adults, kids may develop anxiety or other disorders. Learning to cope with these disorders is key to their successful future as an adult. If your child has certain disorders, they may benefit from an emotional support animal. This article will outline ways to discover if your child has any such issues, how an emotional support cat or dog may help them, and more.

Signs Your Child May Need to See a Therapist

Does your child need professional help for mental challenges they may be facing? There are several signs to look for. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Has my child’s eating or sleeping habits changed?
  • Has my child started any destructive behaviors?
  • Does my child feel excessively worried?
  • Is my child isolating from their friends?
  • Is my child behaving badly in school?
  • Are people complaining about my child’s physical problems?
  • Does my child talk about death a lot?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to schedule a visit to a therapist who specializes in working with children. They will help you determine whether your child has any issues that need attention.

The therapist can also suggest ways to reduce anxiety and moderate other conditions. One of those ways may be with an emotional support animal.

How Your Child May Benefit from an Emotional Support Animal

People often think of emotional support animals as a coping mechanism for anxiety triggers people may encounter. That is true, but it’s not the only benefit. Emotional support animals offer other benefits for your child.

If your child has a pet to interact with, they will learn responsibility. They will learn the needs of a pet. They will also learn empathy and to respect the feelings of someone other than themselves. Empathy is a valuable skill and is often different to teach to children. Having a pet may help your child develop this skill much faster and easier.

Your child may find it easier to bond with an animal on an emotional level. Pets don’t judge or criticize. An emotional support animal will accept your child for who they are and offer unconditional love. Receiving and giving love is a key need for any person to have healthy relationships in life.

What Kind of Emotional Support Animal?

The right pet for your child will depend on many things. How energetic is your child? A dog may be a good choice. Dogs have a lot of energy and love to play. Both your child and the dog can burn excess energy.

Dogs aren’t the only option. Is your child more quiet and reserved? An emotional support cat might be the better choice. If you live in a small apartment, a smaller animal like a rabbit or hamster might work. Therapists may only tout dogs and cats as good emotional support animals, but kids can bond with almost anything.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

You may think that simply having a family dog or cat is enough to help your child. However, having your child’s pet registered as an ESA offers several benefits.

If your housing does not allow pets, under the Fair Housing Act, animals registered as ESAs are exempt from policies that normally prohibit pets to live in such buildings. Your landlord won’t be able to say “no pets” if you have a registered ESA.

To get an emotional support animal, you’ll need an emotional support animal letter. To qualify, your child’s therapist will need to sign off on an ESA as a viable form of treatment for your child. Certain conditions typically qualify someone to have an emotional support animal. Some of these conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Some learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Phobias
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Once your therapist determines your child has a qualifying condition, they can provide you with an ESA letter. To use your letter, submit it to your landlord or any places where you want to bring the emotional support animal when you travel.

Emotional Support Animal Misinformation and Limitations

Some landlords will want to see your emotional support animal registration. The ESA letter is the only proof you require, and landlords who demand proof of registration do not understand the law. There are no regulations or certifications to deem an animal as an ESA. The only qualification comes from your therapist and a properly written ESA letter.

Other businesses may not allow animals, even if they are ESAs. More and more airlines are ending policies that allow emotional support animals to fly for free. If you want to fly with your pet, you will have to pay a fee as ESAs are not classified as service dogs and require no specialized training.

Summing Up

An emotional support animal can be a wonderful way for your child to cope with and reduce anxiety. Emotional support animals can help your child with a variety of conditions. Getting an emotional support animal for your child is as easy for your child as it is for an adult. A good ESA can also help your child grow and develop critical social skills that will benefit them as they become adults.

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