What Matters
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To Live. To Learn. To Life. SM
Dedicated to the never-ending pursuit of wisdom.
May 2014

Welcome to the Minding What Matters community of learners.  Minding What Matters is the newsletter distributed by Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC to share information with you regarding mental health, education, wellness, family, and community interests.  We are dedicated to becoming a valued first resource for consumers and professionals in the health and well-being of our communities. 
Welcome!  We're glad you are here. 

Kids 'n Pets


I promise you - I distinctly remember a conversation with my Dad when I was a very young girl where I'm sure he promised me that I could have a pony.  Yes! A pony! True enough no one else in my family can recall this particular conversation and it took me a few years of growing up before I realized that it was more wishful thinking than conversation that actually happened. Thankfully, my parents had to foresight to know that I was not ready to have a horse.  While they did not give me a horse - they did help to instill within me a love and compassion for animals that has grown over the years. 
Here at Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC we often respond to questions from our patients and their families regarding pets.  We decided to share some information with you regarding kids and pets that we trust you will find helpful.  We would also like you to know that we are celebrating National Kids & Pets day as well as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month both which occurred this past April as well as National Pet week which is upcoming this month of May.  
Throughout the month of May you can stop by our office if you are interested in donating a wish list item for the sheltered animals at the Burlington County Animal Shelter.  Their wish list can be found online at  Burlington County Animal Shelter.





J. Oni Dakhari, PsyD       

Licensed Psychologist, NJ Lic#4481, DE Lic#736  

Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC 


Minding What Matters, Editor-in-Chief 

Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC logo  





Children and Animals...they go together like...children and animals.  According to reports from the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 70% of households with children in the US also include at least one pet.  Recently, some developmental theorists have turned their attention to the role interaction with nonhuman animals has on a number of aspects of child development.   Let's see what they discovered.


Cognitive Benefits

Studies have shown that infants, toddlers and children show more interest in live animals than they do to inanimate objects...regardless of the inanimate objects' movement or form.  This interest allows for greater attention and curiosity about the animal and his environment.  Attention and curiosity lead to learning and generalizing from the learning.   For many children, animals motivate learning because the children are emotionally invested in the animal with whom they have a meaningful relationship.  Children, in fact all of us, learn and remember more about subjects in which they are emotionally invested and when the learning occurs within a meaningful relationship. 


Social Benefits

Pets serve as social support for children.  Children will often name pets as one they can turn to when feeling either positive or negative emotions; or when they want to share a secret.  Children distinguish relationships with pets as ones that will last "no matter what".  This perceived stability may result in emotional benefits such as decreased anxiety and increased engagement.


Interaction with animals, whether their own pets, the pets of family or friends or through other encounters such as horseback riding or observing,  help children develop skills in reading non-verbal forms of communication.   These skills make them communicators who are more effective with other humans as well as other nonhuman animals. 


Animals are social facilitators.  Research has shown that those who are pictured or seen associating with animals are viewed more positively than the same individuals pictured without an animal.  Those with animals are perceived to be friendlier, happier and more relaxed-all qualities that make people seem more approachable and likable.


Parents Teach Responsibility

Among the benefits of living with pets is the opportunity to nurture another being.  This is an important human need.  From as young as three years of age, both boys and girls perceive caring for younger siblings or others as gender-linked...female gender-linked.  The same is NOT true for caring for pets...caring for pets remains consistently gender-neutral.   Studies have shown a relationship between pet caretaking and increased empathy toward other animals and other humans too.  Let's be clear on one thing though.  Pets do not teach children responsibility.  Pets provide a gender-neutral opportunity for nurturance.  Parents, by virtue of their actions, attitudes, patience and explicit teachings, teach children responsibility. 


When It Is Not All Sunshine and Roses

Cruelty to animals is a serious issue.  It behooves us not to dismiss instances with phrases like "boys will be boys" or "it is just a passing phase".  In numerous studies, cruelty to animals is correlated with cruelty toward other individuals.  Cruelty to animals is listed among diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder and is more commonly seen in the histories of prison inmates serving time for violent crimes.  A study of 6-12 year old children reported strong correlations between animal abuse and cruelty to other humans.  Cruelty to animals is a barometer of development and the environment in which children are developing.  It is a red flag that requires further investigation for the benefit of the child, other people and the animals with whom they come in contact. 


When An Animal Dies

Loss of a pet is a significant loss for those who shared an emotional connection with that animal.  Mourning the loss of a pet is a natural and healing process.  It can be beneficial to explain death and its aftermath to children in a way that is consistent with one's own beliefs and customs.  It is also beneficial to help children memorialize the pet in some way, for example by making a scrapbook or planting something in honor of the pet.  There are a number of books available to help both adults and children cope with their grief and move forward from the loss.  The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement has a comprehensive bibliography available at Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.


Celebrate Good Times

Many kids and pets across America recently celebrated National Kids & Pets Day on April 26, 2014.  In 2005, Colleen Paige created National Kids & Pets Day to highlight the bond between children and animals and foster safe interactions between children and their pets...and the pets of others.  Celebration of the day also encourages shelter adoptions.  We know not everyone can celebrate by going to a shelter to adopt a pet, but everyone can stop by our office before the end of May to drop off a wish list item for the sheltered animals at Burlington County Animal Shelter.  Their wish list can be found online at



Sheryl L. Pipe, PhD

Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow

Psychology Permit Holder

TP #123-026 

Minding What Matters, Editor

Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC



Words of Wisdom

A Word to the Wise

The spot for words of wisdom, pick-me-ups, funny stories, and quotable quotes.


"Animals are among the first inhabitants of the mind's eye.  They are basic to the development of speech and thought.  Because of their part in the growth of consciousness, they are inseparable from a series of events in each human life, indispensable to our becoming human in the fullest sense." 
~ Paul Shepard 
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In This Issue
Shelter Support
Children & Animals
A Word to the Wise
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Contact Information

J. Oni Dakhari, PsyD                                   Sheryl Pipe, PhD          

Dr. Dakhari - 856-796-3392                             Postdoctoral Fellow Permit Holder        
Office       -   856-780-6293                             TP#123-026                     
NJ Lic #4481, DE Lic# 736                             856-780-6293

Courtney Baker                                             
Office Manager
Phone:  856-780-6293                                                
Fax:      856-780-6294


We trust that you will find the information and resources we have offered to be a benefit.  Please be advised that while Dakhari Psychological Services, LLC works with other professionals to help offer you helpful services that we are not responsible for the content of their services. Please note that all material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical, academic, or otherwise personal advise or instruction.  No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information.  We urge readers to consult appropriate professionals on any matters relating to their health and well-being.  The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the authors, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. In addition, the information and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of every contributor to Minding What Matters and we welcome the exchange of different viewpoints.