We humans can learn a lot from animals. They can be great teachers, especially to kids. Here are a few life lessons children can learn from animals.
Mind you, these are not lessons we have thought up ourselves just to be cool. In fact this is what the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says can aid child development. “Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy”, says the Academy.
It also gives five lessons children can learn from animals. Here they are, with our added thoughts about them.
“Animals can be safe recipients of secrets and private thoughts — children often talk to their pets, like they do their stuffed animals” – this may seem strange to you, but it actually helps children to communicate, be more comfortable sharing private thoughts with someone who they trust. It also helps form a bond and feel more at ease to be communicative.
“Animals provide lessons about life; reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death and bereavement” – things most parents aren’t really comfortable talking about because they have been told these subjects are too much for children. For some they might be, but not for all and animals provide the information bridge they need at first.
“Animals can help develop responsible behavior in the children who care for them” – absolutely. Children can also learn how exactly to take care for others, why that matters. It also helps forming bonds and positive feelings about animals.
“Animals provide a connection to nature” – we humans also come from nature despite our best attempts to set ourselves beyond and above it. In reality we still need that touch from nature and the connection with it. Animals help not only keep that need, but develop it which also shows us why nature is so important and why we need to preserve it, not destroy it.
“Animals can teach respect for other living things” – when very young it is easy to think that everything around you is simply a toy and you can treat it as you want and simply throw it away when you are bored from it. Having a pet or even simply watching animals interact with each other or with humans can be a great lesson for a young child that every living thing has to be treated with respect – from something as small as an ant, to really big animals.
There’s more. A recent study from Tufts University found that “Young adults who cared for animals reported engaging in more ‘contribution’ activities, such as providing service to their community, helping friends or family and demonstrating leadership, than those who did not”, Marinij reports. The study also found that high levels of attachment to an animal in late adolescence and young adulthood were positively associated with feeling connected with other people, having empathy and feeling confident.
So the next time a dog approaches your child in the park, don’t pull your kid away. Instead explain to the child about the dog, even ask the owner if it’s ok to pet it. This is how your child can start learning these life lessons from animals.