How Animals Can Affect Troubled Kids
..and what kids can give back to the animal
If you have been reading my posts, you must know, I am crazy about animals. Especially the ones who are not perfect. The handicapped, the shy, the one that is hurt. I am feel the same way about kids and teens. I do love them all, but the ones that are 'different' from the others... they have a special place in my heart.
What if you pair up the two? What if you give a rescued animal to a struggling teenager? I will tell you, the situation will create wonders. The two will nurture each other and fulfill each other's previously unmet needs.
I am an avid reader of Dr. William Glasser who is the pioneer of the so called ' Reality Therapy'. During my psychological studies I have buried myself in Glasser's researches, articles and case studies. I often implemented his theory in real life situations. According to Glasser, we have five basic needs, which need to be fulfilled, unless unhappiness occurs with all its sister behaviors (anger, delinquency, depression, stealing, lying, aggression etc.) The five basic needs are 1. survival, 2. love and belonging, 3. power, 4. freedom and 5. fun.
I can tell you from personal experience that an animal can fulfill four out of the five basic needs. Animals are loving and lovable. A company of an animal creates the feeling of being part of a pack. A pack is a family. Pets also provide you with the feeling of power. The heartfelt ownership raises self esteem, and vice versa. When you watch your recently rescued dog skipping through the yard, smiling, you know he/she is showing her true colors. Those wagging tails do not lie. :-) By rescuing an animal, you have given it power. :-) You will feel free as soon as you run through fields of flowers with your pooch, who just came from the shelter. She might have waited for a long time, but she knew you would eventually come. I do not even have to explain what fun it is to ride the car, run around at the lake, or just cuddle in front of the television with your animal.
Do you not see it? Animals have tremendous effects on mental illness and in general, on mental health. Several studies back up the fact that even suicidal tendencies can be reversed by gifting an animal to the person who is suffering. I once heard of a girl who was so depressed, she did not want to get out of bed. She spent weeks thinking about her 'worthlessness' and refused to eat. Once gifted a cat, she cheered up. Her instincts as a caretaker kicked in and from that day on, she was not only waking up early and taking care of the animal, but eventually enjoyed the sunshine outside with her new friend. The cat was in a safe, in an enclosed, fenced area, while she was reading a book about 'how to become the best pet owner'.
I am not suggesting that this method works for every single behaviorally challenged child or teenager, but it is definitely worthy of consideration. Shelters are full of animals who are eager to be paired up with their new, young owners.
Saying this, please do your research about the need of a certain kind of animal you consider adopting.
Do not gift an animal to those who have previously shown the slightest aggression towards living beings.
Good luck and happy adopting!
Andrea Conger at