A kid is playing with a cat.

Emotional Support for a Kid: What Animal to Choose 

5 min read

More and more people are discovering amazing benefits that emotional support animals can bring, but most of them are adults suffering from mental disorders or other medical conditions. But in fact, kids can make good use of ESAs too. You just need to think about several essential factors before you get one and choose the best animal for your kid’s needs. And we are here to help you.

How Your Child Can Benefit from an ESA 

A girl with a parrot is laughing.
ESAs have proved to provide positive effect on the mental and physical state of the kids.

If you are reading our blog regularly, you most likely already know how emotional support animals can be helpful for adults. And now let’s find out what conditions in children can be relieved by getting an ESA. 

ESA Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression

People with depression and anxiety are the main target group of animal therapy and unfortunately, kids can suffer from these conditions too. An emotional support animal can help your child smile more, let them feel loved, and even comfort them in bed when they feel lonely or just had a nightmare. The best thing is that you don’t need to train an animal in any way to do it — giving their unconditional love to kids is their inherent trait. 

ESA Can Help Children with Autism 

Every parent of a kid with autism knows how difficult it might be for these kids to make social bonds or get engaged in communication. An emotional support animal can become the first friend of your child and help them feel more comfortable during social interaction as it’s much easier to start talking when someone is asking about something or someone you love. 

ESA Will Make Your Kid Moving 

Regular physical activity is vital for any person and especially for those having mental conditions. And while typical workouts can seem to be too boring or exhausting for a child, running in the park with a dog or playing with a favorite cat is a completely different thing. Remember: everyday activity boosts serotonin and helps us and our kids feel much better. 

ESA is a Proven Support for Kids with ADHD 

There are not so many researches about ESAs and kids but this one clearly shows that dogs can be helpful in reducing symptoms of ADHD in kids. Children with ADHD who were accompanied by dogs for several weeks showed improvement in their social skills and focus and demonstrated fewer behavioral issues. 

Questions to Ask Yourself 

A family is playing with a dog.
We offer you to answer three simple questions to find out if it's the right time to get an animal.

Getting any animal is a serious responsibility and emotional support one is not an exception. Both you and your kid should be ready to welcome a new member of the family and give it all your love and care. To better understand whether it’s the case for you, try to answer the following questions: 

  • Is my child old enough to have an animal?

Even though small kids can benefit from having an ESA too, specialists generally recommend getting an ESA for kids 12 years old and older as they can physically and intellectually interact with a pet. 

  • Will the animal meet my child’s needs?

Carefully think what needs your child has and whether those needs will be met by a pet or you are just trying to find any possible way to help. Make sure your kid is not afraid of animals and can’t accidentally or intentionally hurt an ESA. 

An emotional support animal is a long-term commitment, especially if you consider getting a cat or a dog. You should be certain that you are ready for such a commitment as well as that you have time and space to welcome a pet. Certified ESAs can’t be refused housing but if you are living in a small space, you might want to think of a smaller animal than a large fluffy dog. 

If after all these questions you still think that emotional support animal is exactly what your kid needs — that’s great! It means you can start choosing an animal and think of certifying it as an ESA. 

What Animal to Choose for Your Kid

A boy is playing with a dog.
ESAs can make your kid move and play.

There are quite a lot of options to choose from when it comes to emotional support animals and some people opt for weird variants like spiders or chickens. As we are choosing an ESA for a child, we recommend sticking for more classic options. They are easier to care for and, you gotta face it, a kid with a chicken won’t be the star of the playground. 

A Dog 

A dog will be the perfect choice both for an active kid or a kid who lacks physical activity as owning a dog means walking it at least twice a day (and also add a few hours of running around the house chasing each other). As we already mentioned, an ESA dog can significantly ease the symptoms of ADHD.

A Cat 

An ESA can is another great option if your kid wants someone warm and fluffy to hug when they feel anxious but a dog is too big or requires the attention you can’t give. Cats to be more independent though they still love humans and can keep a good company for a child.

A kid is kissing a chick.
Fluffy birds are cute and adorable - you can't stand smiling and playing with them.

A Bird 

A parrot is the first pet that comes to mind after cats and dogs. The best thing about birds is that they require little care and have no fur which is perfect for kids prone to allergies. At the same time, they are very intelligent and your kid can spend days teaching his ESA bird new and new tricks. 

A Hamster 

Hamsters don’t need a lot of space, they are fun to watch, and they are just as huggable as cats and dogs, just a little smaller. The only drawback here is that the average life expectancy of a hamster is rather short which might be a problem if your kid makes a strong bond with it. 

A Fish 

A fish is a perfect ESA in cases, when you don’t have all the conditions to get some other animal but want your kid to care about someone. Fishes are not really good at showing their love but at least watching an aquarium reduces anxiety and stress. 

Whatever animal you decide to choose, don’t forget to ask your kid first or at least make sure they don’t mind getting an animal in general. And when you are all set — get ready for the new family member to come!

by GetESA

Rating: 3.4/5 5 votes cast

ESA 101: Educational