by Jenny Holt
Animal mistreatment, abuse, and neglect is rife across the globe. The state of animal welfare in Pakistan is particularly worrying: from the issue of stray dogs through to a problematic lack of animal rights laws, Pakistan needs to live up to its responsibility to our fellow creatures who share the earth with us. Change has got to start somewhere, and what better place than at the bottom of the ladder, or the foundation of our future: our children, the next generation. Here’s how to teach your kids to respect all animals, both great and small.
Model good habits
Children learn from example, so from an early age, you need to teach good behaviors by practicing them yourself. This includes always being kind and patient with animals, even if they can be incredibly frustrating at times. Teach children how to approach a strange pet, always asking the owner for permission, and never to touch stray dogs, which can harbor a number of harmful diseases and be unpredictable. Show them how to stroke animals, from rodents through to cats and dogs, and intervene if they get too rough, explaining how to read the signals that the animal isn’t enjoying what they’re doing.
Teaching your child how to respect animals starts with educating them about the right of animals to demand respect from humans: visit a dog shelter, volunteer at a local pet charity, or visit a farm or zoo which cares for animals in a humane way. You can also read your children books about animals, both factual and fictional – children love to hear about all the amazing facts that abound in the animal kingdom. TV series and movies are another good way to instill positive and respectful associations with animals, whether cartoons, documentaries, or fictional films.
Get a pet
Having a pet can bring a wide range of benefits to any family: from teaching children how to nurture another creature, and the resulting satisfaction they get from it, through to learning about responsibility and commitment. Give your child consistent jobs to do, like brushing the animal’s coat and feeding and watering it. Remember, many of us aren’t properly set up to own dogs, which shouldn’t be left alone for long periods and require plenty of exercise. Consider a rodent or even a fish to start developing respectful habits towards animals in your children.