Information Contributed by Shakela Brown, WHS
Humane Education Manager
Talking about animal welfare with kids is especially difficult in urban communities like Washington, DC, where many times, human welfare needs are not being met. It’s not unusual to hear comments like, “Why should I care about that dog when I get hit all the time?”
Children are the next generation of animal advocates, and we must give them the tools they need to continue the efforts of today and work toward a better future for all animals. Talking to kids using a few of these tips from our Humane Education Manager will help do this and increase awareness of why animal issues should be important to them.
What’s Up - Tailor your discussion to the school your kids attend and the
neighborhood they live in. Know what’s happening in their community, because
recent crimes or events might affect how the kids will respond to your lesson.
- Body Language - Be on your feet and make eye contact when you have the conversation. Your body language communicates how confident you are in what you say.
- Honesty is
Everything - Believe in everything that you are saying. Try using visual
examples to help back up your lesson.
- Set the Bar
High - Kids are more likely to meet expectations if you set the bar high.
Aim for 100% compassion towards animals at all times. Doing this shows that you trust your kids to understand
you and do the right thing.
- Listen - Listening to kids shows them that you care about them, and they are more likely to be engaged. Encourage them to give you their impressions on your lesson, and do not interrupt them when they are talking.
- Give Examples - Always address outbursts instead of ignoring them. “Why should I care about my dog getting hit?” a child might ask. Offer alternatives and examples that cross the people-animal border. Turn your response into a question – “Why do you go to school?” Students will say, “To learn!” Then you can talk about how dogs need schedules and rules just like them in order to learn. Direct comparisons change minds.
- Be Available – Kids need to know that you care about them and that means being available. Help them understand their own rights and give them the tools they need to make a difference.
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