Teaching children to care for animals

When I was growing up we always had a pet in the house: a cat or a dog. My sister used to bring home homeless kittens, nurture them to health and well, they most of the time ran away back to the wild after becoming strong and bigger!

Now years later we can’t afford to have a pet in the house for many reasons. Nevertheless, we always teach our own child to take care of the animals and birds, to respect them and to treat them with love and compassion.

I would like to share some ideas with you on how to teach your child to care for animals if you don’t have or can’t have a pet in the house:

1. Read books about animals and birds. Talk about places where they live and what they eat.

2. When outside for a walk, we identify pets we meet or birds and talk about them.

3. We often feed fish in the pond or pigeons outside in the park of the playground. 

4. We watch movies and cartoons where animals are the main characters. We also talk about animals having a spirit and how they can feel emotions and pain, they also can get sick. 

5. If we have a chance to see various farm yard animals and their babies, we take that chance. It gives a child an understanding that all animals and birds can have babies and just like himself the babies grow and become big.

6. Talk to the child about teasing and insulting animals. Explain (without threatening or frightening) that sometimes they can react if they feel danger. This will raise the awareness but won’t impose fear. Note: it is natural for children to imitate the animals or birds. However, we teach our daughter that sometimes animals can get too excited or unhappy about it, so it is best not to overdo it. 

7. We also teach our daughter that animals and birds feel best when they are not in the cage and have freedom to move around. It took a few times to explain to her this concept before she stopped asking to get a bunny in the cage or a turtle in a bottle. Now she expresses the desire to have one but then gives an argument herself that inside our house they won’t be comfortable. 

Do you have pets? How do you teach your child to care for animals? I’d love to hear from you!

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