Get Adobe Flash player
WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM 20  chapter 2 early years, children are busy trying to understand how they are capable and competent. Giving children the opportunity to participate in meaningful caring activities for a vulnerable creature can build tremendous confidence. Free Speech Speaking with animals offers children a freedom that is not always felt when speaking to adults. Adults who are concerned with teaching and helping children develop their language skills can seem more focused on the mechanics of what the child is saying than the child’s message. Or some well-​meaning adults try to help children “talk through” their problems or offer to help a child process his feelings. For chil- dren trying to navigate the already complex world of adult communication, these added pressures can discourage their speaking comfortably and freely. In contrast, animals listen without question, without demand. They hear what a child has to say and don’t press her to say anything more. The family dog doesn’t ask a child to elaborate, reason, justify, apologize, or explain. He just listens. This can be very freeing for a child. Children know that they can tell a pet anything and it will be a safe secret. No mat- ter how silly or insignificant a child’s feelings may seem, a receptive pet will never laugh, be dismissive, or minimize that child for having those feelings. And isn’t this why we adults also talk to animals? Animals inhabit a world not created by adults, and this affords children a certain freedom as well. Children are free to playact with animals, adapting their behavior and habits. Some very tolerant pets will allow themselves to be involved in children’s play, which can be thrilling and gratifying for young children. Young chil- dren may become deeply immersed in play involving animals: they may include the family cat as a member of the pretend “camping trip” happening in the living room, or they may have the toy people “visit” the classroom parakeet in her cage. The animal may have a special or “starring role” in the story, and the child feels free to include it. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL