Most of us love pets and animals in general. You want to share that love and respect with your children. Teaching your kids to respect animals can also help you teach them to care for and respect other humans. Here are a few ways you can help your children be kind and caring to other creatures.
Be a Good Example
Kids learn by observing what the adults and other people around them do. One of the best ways to get your kids to respect animals is to model behaviour that respects animals.
Show Kindness to All Animals
Being kind to all animals can be a challenge. It means not killing bugs you find in the house and using humane traps to catch mice or rodents. Doing these things might be less convenient for you. But it sends a message to your kids that’s important to respect all living creatures.
Take Your Kids to a Vet
Having your kids visit a veterinarian can help them learn more about why it’s important to be kind to and respect animals. A vet can give your family pro tips for caring for animals and help kids understand more about what makes animals tick.
Visit a Zoo or a Farm
If your child has limited daily exposure to animals, a visit to a local zoo or a farm can be ideal. The zoos today are much better than the zoos of the past. They actually let animals enjoy a simulated natural habitat and can help your kids learn more about how animals live.
Watch Animals in Nature
Part of teaching your kids to respect animals is teaching them to leave the animals alone. Spend time observing animals in a natural setting. It can be in your backyard, at a nearby park or on a trip.
Read Books Together About Animals
A number of children’s books show animals in a positive light. These books can feature animals doing something helpful, such as “Charlotte’s Web.” They can also provide information about real animals, such as books about elephants or lions in nature. Some books feature a child and an animal being friends, which can help your child develop empathy and respect for animals.
Consider Getting a Pet
If you have the space, the time and the inclination, consider getting a pet to help your children learn to love and respect animals. It doesn’t have to be a dog or a cat. Fish or a hamster can be great pets for families that don’t have much space. Your child will learn to care for the animal and will come to love and care for it like another member of your family. If you give your kids a pets, make sure you give them responsibilities related to the care of the pets. Even the youngest of kids can take care of filling up a cat’s water bowl or playing with the dog. Assigning your child responsibilities related to the pet will help him or her see how his or her actions affect the animal’s well-being.
Make a Pretend Pet
A pretend pet can be a great substitute when you can’t get a real pet. Teach your child to care for the pretend pet like he or she would a real one.
Offer Praise When Your Kids Are Kind to Animals
Just as you should show your kids how to be kind to animals, you praise them when they are kind to animals. If your child is playing nicely with the family cat or dog, tell him or her “good job.” Create a star chart and reward your child when he or she remembers to feed the cat or walk the dog.
Tell Them What to Do If They Feel Scared Around an Animal
A child who respects animals shouldn’t necessarily fear animals. But, he or she should know what to do around an animal that feels threatening. Teach your kids to stand still and not run if they come into contact with a strange or scary dog. It’s also important that they know not to make eye contact with the dog.
Learning to love and respect animals starts from a young age. If you want your child to love cats, dogs and other creatures, introduce him to animals early on. Remember to stress the importance of being kind to everyone, not just furry, feathery or scaly creatures.