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Teaching Children the Importance of Showing Compassion to Animals

INA Blog Teaching Children the Importance of Showing Compassion to Animals 1By Katie Brenneman

As a nanny, you want the kids they look after to blossom into caring, compassionate members of society. However, teaching kids the art of compassion is hard and requires your constant attention. Sometimes this responsibility can be overwhelming, particularly when current events around the world seem so hard and uncaring. 

But, teaching compassion is easier when you focus on a particular issue or idea. In particular, you should consider teaching the children you care for the importance of showing compassion to animals. 

This might sound odd at first, but folks who show compassion to animals are likely to display the same compassionate behaviors towards their fellow humans, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

Start in the Yard

Most young children engage with animals for the first time in their parent’s yard or garden. This setting is an ideal space to teach young kids compassion for animals. A garden is usually calm and allows you to safely introduce children to creatures of all kinds. Of course, you shouldn’t attempt to hold or trap any wild animals. Instead, use the occasion to ask questions that inspire compassion. Here are a few sample questions you can ask: 

  • Where do you think that animal lives? 
  • Why do you think that animal is in your garden? 
  • What kind of food do you think that animal eats? 

These questions are designed to get young children to feel curious about animals, as curiosity is often the first step towards understanding and compassion. 

If the children you nanny visit your home, consider creating a habitat for wild animals as an activity. You can easily create habitats for animals by planting flowers together, filling bird feeders when the children visit, and installing bug hotels with your little helpers. By creating an animal-friendly environment together, you teach kids to care for the local wildlife and show compassion for their wild neighbors. 

Use Tech to Your Advantage

Technology like tablets and smartphones is a Catch-22 for nannies. Sometimes, you might get the sense that tech isolates children from the world, but, at the same time, tech has the potential to help you raise compassionate, caring children. 

Typically, children are ready for a tablet around the age of 12 but begin using them much earlier. When the kids you look after are ready for tablets, try to preload their devices with plenty of animal-oriented edutainment and maintain tight child safety controls.  

You should also actively engage with children while they are on the tablets. You can watch nature documentaries together on their tablet and should ask them about the content they are consuming. This will help them understand the lesson being taught by nature docs and edutainment apps, and will also help you maintain an appropriate level of oversight. 

Addressing Big Issues

Showing compassion for the animals in the backyard is one thing — teaching children to respect wildlife and practice sustainability is another. But, teaching children about big issues like extinction and climate change at an early age is important if we want to live in a world where biodiversity is cherished and natural environments are protected. 

The way you address big issues is largely contextual. Some children are ready for conversations around extinction and climate change, while others might need more concrete examples of these issues. So, consider teaching older kids the facts about extinction, but follow up these lessons by watching short, age-appropriate documentaries or visiting local woods and forests where children can see the value of biodiversity first-hand. 

Conclusion

Caring for the natural environment is a responsibility we all share. As a nanny, you’re in a great position to inspire animal compassion in the next generation. Consider planning outdoor activities to get young ones interested in animals, and follow up these experiences with lessons from edutainment apps and videos. 

 

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie.

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