It may seem that being kind to animals should be a given, something that all people instinctively know how to do. However, thousands of animals are abused and abandoned on a daily basis around the country. Teaching empathy and positive relationships for animals starts young, and is something that in most cases should be taught and modeled for children by the adults in their lives. Here are five simple ways to start teaching children to have a good relationship with animals.
1. Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter
One of the easiest ways to teach children empathy for cats, dogs and other animals is to volunteer together at your local animal shelter. Here, it is easy to show your children how the animals feel left abandoned, abused and unwanted by their owners, and what a positive difference children themselves can make in the animals’ lives. Most shelters will accept children as volunteers as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
2. Foster a Cat or Dog in Need
Shelters, particularly kill shelters are often in need of foster families to help care for dogs and cats so that they can avoid euthanizing them when the facilities are full. By taking in a foster animal, you are not only buying it time to find a forever home, but you open the doors of communication to help teach your child about love and care for animals in need.
3. Download the RedRover App
The Restricted Adventures of Raja is an app developed by the non-profit organization RedRover to help children ages 7-11 learn empathy skills towards animals and form positive relationships with them. An interactive graphic novel e-book, The Restricted Adventures of Raja uses curriculum from the successful RedRover Readers program in schools to help prevent animal cruelty and neglect.
The app is available for both iTunes and Google Play, and features an interactive e-book with both English and Spanish options, as well as a game, Animal Watch. In the Animal Watch game, children can use their newly acquired empathy and animal care skills to help animals and answer questions.
4. Help Raise Money for Animal Foundations
Non-profit foundations and charities such as RedRover help to protect innocent animals that are not capable of standing up for themselves. They help raise awareness, step in when there are displaced animals in natural disasters, and rescue animals from abuse and neglect daily. Helping your children create a fundraiser to help raise money to support these organizations can teach them about the importance of caring for all animals.
Do you have additional tips for teaching children to have a good relationship with animals? Feel free to share them in the comments below.