Toddlers are known for a lot of things, but unfortunately, demonstrating pet kindness is not always one of them.
If you polled a room full of parents of 2-year-olds on what their children’s more admirable traits are, I don’t think “she’s always so kind to the cat” would be high on the list.
And that’s OK, because it’s hard for toddlers to handle everything the world throws at them. Or at least, it’s OK until all of a sudden when it’s not, like when your toddler and your dog are face-to-face and at least one of them is snarling.
Some of us luck into getting kids who seem to have arrived on the planet with an innate understanding of how animals should be treated.
Others of us … are not so lucky. If you have found yourself staying up way too late coming up with yet another new idea for teaching little Lindsey to be nice to the cat lest she gets her eye scratched out, then you are probably not one of the aforementioned lucky parents.
With all this in mind, I thought I would share the tips and tricks for teaching animal kindness that have worked with the children who have lived in my home. I am by no means a pet-toddler expert, but pet kindness is crucial in our household, and the relationship you build between your kids and your pets matters.
1. Show kids how ALL animals should be treated
2. Visit a petting zoo
3. Read more books about animals
4. Make your toddler a pretend pet
5. Go overboard on praise and positive attention
6. Teach kids what to do if an animal misbehaves
7. Make sure there’s a “safe space” for your pet