Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are pets helpful?

Dr. Gottlieb,
I'm sorry I didn't thank you for your reply sooner.  Your comments are helpful and we will keep working through the issues.  I was also wondering if you had any thoughts on the use of pets to help give the child focus and help calm them down.  I think I have read where in some cases the "unconditional love" that a pet (i.e. dog, cat) provides can give the child a more calm place to go emotionally when they are upset.  
Hi, Pets can be a mixed blessing for children with anger regulation issues.  Yes, sometimes a pet can be a source of comfort when a child is angry, but sometimes a pet can also be a source of friction in a household.  For example, I have worked with families where the child forgets to walk her dog, and when parents remind the child, there was an angry explosion (e.g. "why do I have to do it now?" or "I'm in the middle of my game.  Can't you do it?")  Pets can be a support but also a stressor in a family, and since you and your wife may have added responsibilities too, think about how everyone in the family feels about it and think carefully how your child will handle it once the newness wears off.  Take care, David Gottlieb, Ph.D.  

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