It is an important element of any animals (human or otherwise) upbringing that they be exposed to novel stimuli right from the start. Exploration of new things helps them build a picture of the world around them, increase knowledge and develop awareness of safe boundaries and interactions. In this particular post I focus on introducing children to animals. I think it is critical for children to meet as many weird and wonderful creatures from as young as is safe to do so, but it must be in a positive way; not screaming at spiders in the bath or referring to certain animals as gross or scary, especially if the child seems naturally fearful, on that same note it is important not to force them to engage with something they show signs of reacting badly to, just calmly walk away and try again another time, habituating to a fear provoking stimulus by calm, regular exposure rather than flooding by forcing them into a situation or using bullying tactics.
I have known young girls frightened of cats to the point they became hysterical just knowing that there might be cats in the house they were visiting and working in a Vets; two children of about 6 years of age so frightened of the small dog on a lead in the corner of the waiting room that they hid behind their parent in case it broke free, another instance with the same children involved a Labrador that was muzzled (this straight away makes someone more wary), one of the children had to be carried from the consulting room to the car park as they were too terrified to walk.
I find it so disheartening to see small children (who have not had bad experiences with animals) be so frightened, just through a lack of exposure or ‘inherited’ from their parents dislike/avoidance of a particular animal.
We have made a deliberate effort to expose our child to as many different flora and fauna as possible through books, television, pets, farms, wildlife parks etc. especially stopping to look at ‘creepy crawlies’ that I don’t particularly like. Even as a baby when her sight was not fully developed, it was still stimulating her senses. It is important to me to try to limit the ‘inherited’ fear or inhibitions from myself.
I tried to find a children’s book about effective communication between humans and other animals, something that showed how other species communicate, there was surprisingly little to nothing available, which inspired me to create my own book, one that I felt conveyed important life messages to my child and hopefully others.
I am in the process of writing a number of books for children of different ages, for the younger children; a picture book concentrating on safe animal interactions and for older children that are animal obsessed, a short novel on positive interaction that is focused on welfare, growth and harmony; this particular book is in the illustration stage and I hope for it to be released early 2017, entitled Vera & Bob sign up to our blog or follow us on Facebook to read snippets, see illustrations develop and be the first to know the release date.