Rachel Mills
April 2, 2024

Be Kind to Animals

‘It’s going to take all of us, doing whatever we can, to end suffering and create a world that’s kinder to animals’ RSPCA Encouraging our children to have a caring approach towards animals, not only helps the animals, it can…

‘It’s going to take all of us, doing whatever we can, to end suffering and create a world that’s kinder to animals’ RSPCA

Encouraging our children to have a caring approach towards animals, not only helps the animals, it can also help our children to grow into kind, caring and empathetic adults.

‘Recent studies have shown that children who have positive experiences with animals when they are little are more likely to transfer feelings of kindness, empathy, and tolerance towards other living beings.’

In this post, we’ll be sharing some of our tips for fostering a caring and respectful approach to all animals, that goes beyond caring for pets at home.

Although every animal is important in the natural world, some animals are more favoured than others and many creatures seem to have developed a bad reputation. So, we’ll also be looking at some of the ways in which we can help our children to not be afraid around certain animals and to learn to recognise their value in the world and the importance of looking after and protecting them.

Fear of spiders – what causes this and how can we reduce the chances of our children having arachnophobia?    

Garden spider

The difference between fears and phobias, is that phobias don’t have a rational explanation behind them for the fear.

In countries where venomous spiders live, people obviously need to be cautious around them and seeing one may cause them to be fearful, or to panic, as spider bites can be life-threatening. However, spiders in the UK are not venomous, so a fear of them may seem irrational. Arachnophobia is an extreme fear of spiders and symptoms may include sweats and panic attacks.

Here are some ways of reducing the chances of our children developing a fear of spiders:

  • We can help our children not fear spiders, by normalising our own responses to seeing them, as children’s fears and phobias can often stem from witnessing ours. Even if we exhibit a stress response when we first see a spider, a follow-up comment like, ‘ooh, that spider moving quickly made me jump!’ said with a smile or a laugh, can immediately quell any anxiety.
  • Read stories and rhymes about friendly spiders and sing songs about them
  • Read stories about misunderstood animals and use them as a starting point for discussions around feelings and empathy
  • Make friendly spider characters, using pipe cleaners and wool, or pipe cleaners, pom-poms and googly eyes
  • Research spiders together and make a fact file, talk about their role in the ecosystem, to help them to value their importance
  • Engage their curiosity about spiders at an early age, by building spider habitats together and observing the behaviour of the spiders
  • Create a cartoon, video or animation about spiders, to educate others
  • Go minibeast hunting or join a local nature group, to increase your child’s exposure to a wide range of minibeasts at an early age, where they can observe their habitats, movements and skills

How can we encourage children to be calm around bees?

Many children and adults have a fear of bees, because of their anxiety around being stung. While this is understandable, with a greater understanding of bees, children are likely to be less fearful and remain safer.

In reality, bees only sting when there is a perceived threat, to the hive, to the food or to their safety. Staying very still and quiet, rather than thrashing about noisily, results in less likelihood of being stung.

The bee population has been declining globally for decades, due to habitat loss, pesticides and air pollution. This is concerning, because bees are among the most common pollinators and much of our food production depends on bees.

‘pollinators contribute directly to food security. According to bee experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, a third of the world’s food production depends on bees.’

It’s important that we educate our children about the significance of bees to the human population. They need to understand the importance of protecting them and celebrate what they bring to the biodiversity we depend upon to survive. Stories, films, books, model making and observing bees in the wild, can all add to our children’s understanding of bees.

When we harness our young children’s curiosity about animals, great learning can take place and empathy can be created. Young children are naturally curious and by learning more about the creatures in our homes and in the wild, they are more likely to respect and protect them in the future.


‘Nurturing children’s love of animals helps them grow as kind, tolerant, empathetic adults,’ Cynthia Madison, January 2021


‘The RSPCA Guide to Animal Kindness’


‘Why bees are essential to people and planet’ UN Environment Programme, May 2022


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