Teaching Kids Kindness Towards Animals

Nov 08, 2012 No Comments by

Watch toddlers interact with animals and you might conclude that they are indeed made of snips and snails – and created to pull puppy dogs’ tails. And to torture sleeping cats, from their afternoon snack and squash slug wriggling their way across the pavement.

kids-and-animal-love

kids-and-animal-love

  1. Go hunting for animal friends. Exposing toddlers to different kinds of animals in different settings can help them feel more comfortable around winged or four-footed creatures. And we tend to be kinder to those we are comfortable with. Happy and safe hunting grounds include cousin Jan’s house with her four cats, Grandma’s with her three dogs and parakeet, pet shops, the zoo, the park.
  2. Books are another wonderful place to hunt for new and different animals friends. Start with simple books with large, easy-to-distinguish pictures of familiar farm and domestic animals. Then move on to more exotic species.
    Toddler particularly love books about baby animals or about animals they are familiar with(such as dogs and cats).
  3. Bring home your ‘catch’. Having a pet at home can greatly enhance a child’s empathy for animals. If you don’t already have a pet , consider adopting one. A couple of goldfish, a guinea pig, or a hamster will be easier to care for than a dog or cat while your toddler is young but will be less than fun. If you’re not up to the responsibilities of owning an animal, try hanging a bird-feeder in your garden, deck, fire-escape, or tree on your street. Your toddler will enjoy watching the feathered friends as they stop for a nibble.
  4. Teach the fine art of petting. A toddler’s natural inclination is to overwhelm animals with their own special brand of kindness, its up to you to slow your toddler how safely and humanely hug and pet an animal. Start by using your toddler’s stuffed animal collection for demonstration purposes: ‘See, this is how you pet Teddy – gently, slowly. That’s right. That’s he way he likes it.’ Or have your toddler pretend that he or she’s a kitten or a puppy that you can pet and scratch gently (alternatively, you can be the pet and let your toddler do the petting).
  5. If your toddler has a fear of animals, take steps to eliminate it. And be sure to teach caution with unfamiliar animals (wild or domestic).
  6. Tell your toddler where its hurt. Explain that ‘animals have feelings, just like people, so we must be careful not to hurt them. ‘That ‘tail pulling, for pulling, kicking, dragging and foot-trampling hurts animals as much as they would hurt you.’ And that such actions are absolutely off limits. Some animals are more forgiving of physical insult than others, but any animal is capable of revenge; for your toddler’s sake (as well as the sake of the animals in his or her life), this lesson is vital.
  7. Teach the gentle art of observation. Watch an ant crawl up its hill and disappear, a squirrel cracking open a peanut, a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower. As you watch, talk about the ant going home to its family, the squirrel being hungry for its lunch, the beauty of the butterfly. Occasionally, catch an insect in a clean jar to observe it more closely. But always let it go, explaining that it wants to go back to its home. Strongly discourage the kind of wildlife-bashing that is often common among junior naturalists: squashing worms, trampling ants, and pulling wings off the captured moths.
  8. Don’t let your toddler tease. Teasing animals – waving a bone out of a dog’s reach, pretending to eat out of the cat’s bowl – is not only unkind but potentially dangerous. Explain that it’s not nice to interrupt an animals nap, bother one while it’s eating, or take away its toy – animals don’t like being treated rudely any more than people do.

After The Baby Is Born, The Toddlers Year
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