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Parents should teach their children to treat animals with respect.
Parents should teach their children to treat animals with respect. (iStock photo)

"God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground'" (Gen. 1:25-26, NIV).

It is clear that God intended for humanity to have an ongoing relationship with the animal kingdom. We were created in His image and called to serve as His stewards here on earth. If this is such a key part of His plan (and it would appear so, as it is clearly laid out within the story of creation), then it should also be a key lesson that we impart to our children.

But, as with any lesson, how should we go about teaching it? How can we instruct our children to respect and care for animals as part of God's creation? If you're feeling stumped on how to get started, try using the five tips below as a jumping-off point:

1. Acquaint them with animals. More specifically, get them used to being around pets. It's easy to fear things that are unfamiliar, and children who are not exposed to common pets (dogs, cats, etc.) from a young age often develop irrational, hard-to-shake fears of all animals. It's hard to respect something you fear. Moreover, fear often prompts us to behave in harmful, sinful ways in the guise of self-protection.

If owning your own pet doesn't work for you, try scheduling regular visits with a family member, friend or neighbor who owns friendly pets. Children can learn a lot of respect for animals simply by becoming accustomed to their presence.

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