It would be a wonderful world if all people showed love and respect for animal life. Unfortunately, our animal friends don't always get the high regard they deserve as evidenced by the reports of animal abuse and cruelty that frequently make the news. Because a healthy respect for animal life is learned at an early age, it's important to know how to teach children to have respect for animal life and welfare.
Young children don’t need to know the term anthropomorphism, but it means the attribution of human characteristics to animals or inanimate objects. Many cartoons use anthropomorphism, and the cute talking critters have wide appeal to youngsters.
When you read children storybooks with animal characters, point out the difference between anthropomorphized animals wearing clothes or eating with utensils and naturalistic animals.
We want to respect animals and avoid hurting them unnecessarily, but it is also important to see that wild animals do not belong as pets in people houses.
What kinds of wild animals could have homes in your back yard? Look out the windows and talk about available food, water, shelter, and space. Talk about how we can all help wild animals by making sure they have access to the habitat they need.
Examples include: Feed the birds and provide a bird bath. Leave the brush pile by the garage for shelter for small animals. Clean a stream or pond for wildlife.
Adapted from Iowa’s Project WILD