Top Tips to Help Children Care for Animals
Teaching children to love and care for animals is a great way to help build their ability to empathise and to be compassionate, whilst learning the skills required to ensure an animal is happy and healthy.
Caring for animals can also help to teach patience, the importance of hard-work and how to look out for those who are more vulnerable, which will in turn help with their social development.
Here are our top tips to help foster a love for animals in your children:
- Show Compassion – Display compassion to the animals you come into contact with, whether it’s your family pet or perhaps a dog you see whilst walking down the street. If your dog barks when someone knocks on the door, don’t act out of frustration and tell them to “shut up”, say “well done” since they’ve done their job in letting you know that there’s someone at the door. When your child sees this, it will convey that you appreciate having your dog and value what him as part of your family.
- Don’t Spark Unnecessary Fear – When you’re walking with your child and see a dog off the leash, it’s a natural reaction to want to protect your child either by blocking them, picking them up, or warning them to stay away. However, this can lead to an unnecessary fear of all dogs that can cause problems for your child. Instead, try explaining to your child that it can be dangerous to approach strange animals (even cats aren’t always friendly and can carry fleas) and that not all animals are friendly because every animal is different and has been raised differently. Remember that this applies to all animals, try not to panic and run when you next see a spider or use words like “disgusting” or “creepy”. Your child will pick up on the connotations that you use and will develop the same way of thinking and behaving around animals.
- Get a Pet – If your situation allows it, getting a pet can be the easiest way to foster a love of animals. However, it’s important that you research and choose the right pet for your family. As cute as a puppy and kitten may seem, they take a lot of hard-work and almost constant care and so for busy families with very young children, this might not be the best choice. Remember to put your family’s needs and the needs of the pet first to help you decide which pet to buy or adopt. You can then help your child by teaching them how to care for the animal, how to feed it, clean where it sleeps, exercise it and play with it.
- Research Shelters Before Volunteering – Volunteering at an animal shelter is a noble, worthwhile cause that can help to teach your child about animal care and socialisation. However, not all shelters will be suitable, particularly for young children. Not all shelters will allow children under 16 to volunteer and it’s recommended that you choose a no-kill shelter, whilst also making sure that your child understands that the animals they care for may change day to day as some get sick or are adopted.
Follow these simple tips to start building a love of animals in your child today.
Do you have any other tips to help children love and care for animals? Share them with us!