For many children, the experience of owning a pet is very special, but some children miss out on this experience because of fear. In this article, let’s find out what to do if your child is afraid of animals so that he can enjoy the diversity of nature.
Not all children react the same when they see a dog or other pet. Some children want to pet animals and are very attracted to them. On the other hand, there are children who want to keep their distance and are afraid of animals. What is the specific reason for this to happen?
Sometimes you may have had bad experiences in the past, or you may have been taught that animals you are not familiar with can be dangerous. There are also children who are frightened by the unfamiliar appearance of animals. What to do if your child is afraid of animals?
‘Some kids are more active and adventurous, but others are calmer and not very open to new experiences,’ said Dr. Tracy Dennis of Hunter College’s Department of Psychology. The child ‘feels more stress’ when confronted with something new and unknown, she says.
Fear is a defense mechanism that keeps children safe, but it is best to teach them to respect and be careful with animals rather than fear them which prevents them from having a rich experience of getting to know each other further.
As parents, here are some tips to help your child make the transition between fear and respect.
Trying to understand the fear
Talk to your child about their fears so that you can come up with strategies to encourage them. Fear is indistinguishable. Therefore, it is not helpful to force a child who is afraid of animals not to be afraid.
It is best to identify the cause of your fear and find strategies to help you face it. For example, if your child is afraid of dogs because of their size, don’t suggest approaching them. Reach out first when you are with a friendly little dog, and then encourage your child to follow under parental supervision.
Teach animals to approach
The child may cling to the animal or scare the animal with excessive emotions. This usually causes the animal to react violently, which can make the child more frightened.
The best thing to do is to guide your child at every step and carefully choose the words you use. It is best to avoid warning words such as ‘be careful not to be bitten’ or ‘don’t get too close as it can be dangerous. Use positive reinforcement such as ‘approach animals with affection’ or ‘be kind to animals.
The first thing to teach your child to do is to always ask the owner for permission to approach an animal. Then, before your child pets the animal, it’s a good idea to let the animal smell your hand. Both dogs and cats feel more comfortable after checking the smell of a new person.
Divert the animal’s attention by stroking the animal’s face. Then, guide your child to touch the animal from the side, not the tail, so as not to startle the animal. Animal faces can frighten children.
Read Also: 4 Perfect Pets for Single Pet Parents
If your child is afraid of animals, avoid dogs.
Puppies are more easily excited and less predictable than adult dogs.
Young animals are more difficult to predict than adult animals. For young animals, play can be biting, scratching, or jumping over people. To an animal, gestures of trust, pleasure, and love may appear hostile to a child.
Learn Animal Language
Pets have a unique way of communicating with humans. Learning the language and teaching it to your child can be very useful in enabling child-animal encounters.
For example, Linda Case, author of the book Dog and Cat Behavior and Training: A Complete Guide to Understanding Our Two Best Friends, says, ‘Being comfortable with your mouth open, your lips pulled back and your tongue out, is an interaction It’s an invitation for you.”
Teach to interact with animals
Your child may be afraid of animals because they don’t know how to interact with them. Teaching them how to do it can help your child get over their fears.
As young puppies, children are unpredictable. A successful first encounter with an animal can turn that fear into excitement. When you feel these feelings, your child’s behavior can frighten or annoy the animal. Explain to your child that animals should not be pushed, gripped by their fur, or held by their tails.
Do not bring pets home
Many parents think that bringing their pets home is a great way to go. Maybe over time, the child and the animal will get used to each other, but it can put you under unnecessary stress for a long time.
Wait until your child is ready. Some people keep animals in their rooms until they start trusting their pets, but this is not recommended. This can make your pet more aggressive as they understand that their role is not to get along with people.