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Dogs, cats and lizards help kids deal with anxiety and loneliness during pandemic

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 26, 2020

RIVERVIEW, Fla. -- Lexie Rodgers was inspired by a chatty parrot.

The school counselor at Colson Elementary in Seffner was trying to think of a new way to reach kids during the pandemic.

Sessions are now all online. Having to talk to kids about anxiety and loneliness and fear via Zoom is tough.

While Lexie was putting together a plan, a friend’s parrot she was babysitting wouldn’t shut up.

That’s when inspiration struck.

“Animals can provide that emotional connectedness that we are all craving these days,” says Lexie. “And I realize how much I was leaning on my own animals for support.”

So now, when she offers counseling to her grade-school students online, Lexie asks them to bring their own pets to the chat.

If they don’t have a pet, they can bring a stuffed animal. It’s all about comfort and connection these days.

“She’s always here for me,” says a little girl petting her cat during a Zoom session.

“Rats are always nice,” says a proud rat owner.

The pets help calm and focus the children, allowing them to open up about their feelings during the pandemic.

“Animals provide so many means of support for us during this time,” says Lexie.