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Dec 15, 2015: Teaching children to treat animals well

Kids are very impressionable, and we all know that itís important to teach them right from wrong, to encourage positive behavior and to discourage the negative. When doing so, it's also important not to forget to teach them the correct way to treat the animals of the world, and to respect these animals' lives. Learning to properly deal with animals will go a long way to help the child blossom into a good human being, one who understands the importance of fairness and compassion.

If youíre vegetarian or vegan, you probably know that itís possible to raise a healthy and happy child on either one of these diets. A quick online search will reveal many well-informed websites which will help you through any questions you might have about this. Donít be afraid to go this route. I personally have several friends who are raising vegetarian kids, and all of them are perfectly happy. In some countries such as India it is completely normal to encounter individuals of all ages who have never tasted meat. If youíre not vegetarian/vegan, you probably wonít be raising your child this way. Still, be mindful of their natural empathy (which many kids have a lot of). Encourage it, and donít stifle it. Many kids are shocked when they find out that the animals that they love so much are actually the same ones they eat. While itís often easy to indoctrinate a young mind into believing that this is "right" and "the way of the world", you should allow your child to not eat meat if he/she doesnít want to. If you have a child like this, be thankful. Ė S/he is an empathetic individual who realizes the importance of all sentient life. S/he is someone who "gets it".

Another important thing to teach your kids, whether you eat meat or not, is that animals have feelings and can suffer and feel pain. You might think that your child would come to this conclusion naturally, but just like many kids have a lot of natural empathy, many others donít really understand that animals can be hurt when mistreated. This is an important thing to teach your kid, one that can prevent him/her from harming animals while s/he is young, and to treat them better when s/he is older. Respecting animals and treating them correctly (both pets and other animals) should also be taught at schools, and in an ideal world this would be standard practice. If this issue concerns you, donít be afraid to contact your childís school and to ask them if they already have any kind of compassion-building lessons in place geared specifically at helping kids understand the importance of respecting animalsí lives. If they donít, ask them to consider developing some.

When it comes to the unfair treatment of animals, whether itís eating them or abusing them in one way or another, a lot of our bad habits stem from our childhood. Teach your kids to love and (more importantly) respect animals to make sure that they grow up with good habits instead.

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