Treating Your Child

Your Turn: Does a Pet Help You or Your Child Feel Better?

Unconditional love from a furry friend (or a not-so-furry one) can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem and peace of mind. If your child has ADHD, consider adopting a pet — our readers praise their abilities to ease their children to sleep and improve their sense of responsibility.

Little boy with ADHD sits outside on grass with pet puppy
Little boy with ADHD sits outside on grass with pet puppy

My daughter gets so much from our pets. She gives them love, and they return it, without judgment! Our pets are always there for her, which is not the case with siblings and friends. —Sheilah, Washington

My daughter’s cat is her best friend and her confidante. The cat hears about her bad days, the bullying and mean things that other children say to her. Her cat listens quietly. She gives my daughter warm, fuzzy comfort with unconditional love. —An ADDitude Reader

Our family is supportive of our son, but we don’t always don’t respond perfectly to his behaviors. The nice thing about dogs is that they love you, no matter what!An ADDitude Reader

There have been times when my son has felt so down because of being a social outcast at school that having our dog Rosie waiting for him when he got home was the bright spot in his day.Shari, Louisiana

My boys love our dog, and they know that our entire family needs to take care of him. Our dog has taught my boys about unconditional love.Shae, California

Having a pet makes my son feel good, but getting him to take responsibility for the pet has not yet happened. LOL! We are working on it.Polly, Virginia

My pets show me that I can be a loving and responsible person.Michelle, Washington, D.C.

Oh, yes! We have one dog and two cats, and my daughter loves it when it is her day to feed the animals. She loves taking them on walks, too. —Eugena, Oklahoma

We have horses, dogs and cats, and foster dogs. My son takes them to dog school, reads to his cat, and tells all the pets he feels happy to be with them. The pets don’t judge him, are very tolerant, and give him lots of kisses.Melissa, New York

Our German shepherd helps our son by accepting and loving him unconditionally. In fact, she seems to love him most because of his hyperactivity! He always has a friend to turn to on a bad day. Because he struggles socially at times, it is important for him to have a friend who stays by his side, no matter what happens. —Annie, Illinois

We have two turtles, and the first thing my son tells me in the morning is, “I have to feed my turtles.”Jessica, California

There is a very special bond between our chocolate lab and our son. Our dog gives my son a sense of responsibility and also unconditional love. —Caren, Maryland

The best way to get the kids up in the morning without bad attitudes is to let the dogs wake them up. Dog kisses make them smile. —Cristy, Kansas

Our dog was a huge factor in helping our son calm down at night. The dog slept by his bed for years. —Helene, California

My dog is like a therapy dog. She knows when to avoid my daughter and when to approach to settle her down.Danielle, California

Pets are great for children with ADHD. Caring for pets is a structured activity to do each day, and the rewards and affection the children receive are invaluable. —Heidi, Minnesota

Our son takes medication to help him get to sleep, but our dog helps the most, by crawling into bed with him!Kathy, Minnesota

I have surrounded myself with animals all my life. They ground me, they do not judge me, they just love me. —Kathy, Minnesota

Our dog is a huge help and soothes everyone! Touching and playing with our dog is a tactile release. When my son had difficulty learning to read, he would read to the dog, who never stopped to correct him. —Lisa, New York

Our 10-year-old daughter has told us that our pets help her feel loved and safe. She can talk with them and do things outside with the dogs. She’s responsible for her gecko, Azure, that she saved the money to buy. I’ve been impressed with the skills she’s gained after adopting her lizard! —Marian, Utah

As a dog lover, I say absolutely. When I felt no one understood or cared about me as a child, I knew my dog did. She listened to me ramble on for hours and loved me more than life itself. We all need to focus on someone other than ourselves. It takes our minds off of our ADHD. —Jonathon, Ohio

My son has several fish, and he jumps out of bed every morning to feed them. They are a great motivation for him to be responsible and caring.Mindy, Iowa

Having a dog makes my daughter feel “motherly.” She read a good book called All Dogs Have ADHD. Thanks to her pet, she has a better grasp of what ADHD is. —Thomas, New York

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