How can parents teach children about respecting wildlife?

Teaching children how to respect wildlife and the natural world is important for their future. Growing up with an understanding and deep-rooted respect for nature creates empathetic and compassionate people.

We spend the majority of our lives in man-made environments, but most would agree that when you take time to enjoy the great unknown, outside our towns and cities, you’ll find that everyday stresses melt away. Despite that, studies show that kids today spend an average of just over four hours outside a week – down by nearly 50% when compared to their parents’ generation.

It’s important to build an appreciation of nature early so that children can fully embrace and experience the many benefits that go along with having that connection. A recent study has even shown that 95% of children enjoy learning outside more than indoors.

The following are just a few tips to get you started teaching your children about how they can best respect the wild world around them.


Show and Tell

There’s no better way to learn than by doing. Children learn most of their base skills by watching the people around them, so it makes perfect sense to start teaching children about wildlife by using a show-and-tell-based method.

Start small with a familiar dog or cat, introducing children to the safest way to approach them – slow and steady, with no sudden movements. Explain to them that not all animals we meet should be approached and that we should only touch them when an adult says it is ok.

After you’ve covered domestic animals you can begin to introduce children to more “exotic” creatures – ones they may even come across while exploring the outdoors, such as squirrels, deer, and birds. This could involve taking your child on trips to local parks, petting zoos, and nature trails.



Another great way to show children how to respect and engage with the natural world is to get creative. Try building bug hotels, bird feeders, nests, planting a garden, or even worm charming.

A recent study found that looking at wildlife and nature was the favourite outdoor activity of as many as 31% of children. By allowing them to get more hands-on with the local ecosystem, kids not only learn to respect the world around them, but also nurture their creative and imaginative side.

These are all great ways to experience the circle of life and have wildlife move into your own back garden where children can be surrounded by them on a daily basis.


Set Guidelines

The key thing every caregiver should remember when teaching children about respecting wildlife is to set clear guidelines. It’s important for children to fully understand the dos and don’ts of being around wild animals, both for their own safety and that of the creatures.

Too many rules can get overwhelming and be quickly forgotten, so try to make the most important ones stick:

  1. Look, but don’t touch (or get too close).
  2. Don’t give them food (only at zoos or farms where it is authorised by members of staff).
  3. Leave nature the way you found it.



Spending time in nature can offer numerous advantages for a child’s physical and mental well-being. By teaching children these core lessons for respecting wildlife, you provide them with experiential learning opportunities which help develop their creativity, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving skills. They benefit. Nature benefits. Everyone benefits.