Kids love animals. Why wouldn’t they? Whether they’re cute and cuddly, large and stately or creepy and crawly we’ve always held a particular fascination with the creatures with which we share the planet. As responsible parents it’s up to us to ensure that even if we’re not necessarily animal lovers ourselves, we still take the time to ensure that our kids interact with animals as often as possible. This may mean taking in a pet for the whole family to love and nurture. This will teach your kids all about taking responsibility for a living creature. It will help them to manage their time and prioritize taking care of their pet over playing games or hanging out with friends in ways that will pay dividends when they grapple with the responsibilities of adolescence and adulthood.
Even if you decide that your household and a pet may not be a good fit, it’s still beneficial to ensure that your kids engage in activities that involve meaningful encounters with animals. Whether it’s taking them for pony rides, going to a petting zoo or devoting a bright and sunny afternoon to bird watching, kids get a lot of of interacting with animals. For example…
It teaches them about the natural world and our role within it
We live in an era where we can no longer turn a blind eye to the effects that our lives have on the planet around us. Our industry, transportation and animal agriculture have had a profound effect on the planet and the other creatures we share it with.
Getting to learn more about animals, their lives and their habitats helps kids to form a greater understanding of the natural world and our place within it. It helps them to consider the ways in which the choices we make in everything from the food we eat to what we do with our garbage affect the local environment and the world at large.
It teaches them empathy and compassion
All kids benefit from empathy and compassion and spending time with other living creatures helps them to become more empathetic in an age where it’s easier than ever to be self-centred and egocentric. Learning how to handle animals and interact with them responsibly in ways that will not frighten or hurt them is an important skill and one that will help them to grow into more empathetic and compassionate adults.
It can be a great emotional pick me up
When you’re feeling down, interacting with animals (especially when it’s in a natural or outdoor setting) can be a great pick-me-up for your mental health. All kids experience negative emotions like frustration, anger, stress and sadness and it’s our responsibility to teach them how to deal with these emotions responsibly.
It teaches them where their food comes from
Finally, good health starts with a good diet and encouraging kids to interact with animals helps them to better understand where their food comes from. Whether it’s meeting a dairy cow or a hen it can help them to better understand how the quality of life that the animal enjoys can affect the taste and nutritional properties of the food they eat.