How to get kids to respect wildlife

Children who respect wildlife as something worthy of care and protection aren’t just mini environmental stewards. They also grow up kinder and more considerate. Help foster those traits with these ideas.

Respect their wildness

Children tend to project human qualities on animals, something that isn’t always the best thing for the animal—or a kid. (Paddington may live with a human family in the movie but, you definitely don’t want your child thinking they can bring home a wild bear cub.) Show kids that animals in their natural habitats are living their best life—and should keep doing that. Start by watching these silly music videos together to see animals gettin’ wild in their environment.

Respect all the animals

It’s easy for kids to respect those cute and cuddly mammals. But what about all those "scary" critters, such as bees, worms, and snakes? Habitats need all sorts of animals to stay healthy, so show kids why every critter is important. (For instance, worms keep soil healthy by wriggling through the dirt.) Get kids psyched about those not-so-cute animals by clicking through this photo gallery of bizarre bugs.

Respect their privacy

We get it. What kid wouldn’t want to chase after a squirrel, or pet a wild rabbit? But human interactions with wildlife can negatively affect animals by changing their natural behavior. Teach children to leave critters alone and observe them from a distance. Get them started with this DIY forest scope or underwater viewer. Or watch the wildlife from your backyard with these tips.

Respect their homes

So you’ve gotten your child to leave those cute critters alone. Yay, you! But other choices can still harm wildlife. Try to keep kids from taking "souvenirs" that might be something’s home (like shells, nests, or logs). Throw away trash, since animals can mistake litter for food. That includes people food, which can be harmful to critters. Instead, teach kids about proper animal food by helping them make this bird feeder.