WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM
Why Are Children So Interested In Animals, Anyway?
Of course, adults should closely supervise this play to ensure the safety
of both animals and children. The opportunity to express themselves as
they wish in front of animals is, for some children, a liberating and valuable
quality in the relationship.
Children also find the “magical” qualities of animals in stories and media
appealing. Animals often have special powers. They can fly, see in the dark,
move with extreme speed, live underwater, scare away monsters—things
that children wish they themselves could do. In real life, animals also have
special powers: echolocation, acute senses of smell and hearing, the ability
to live underwater, climb to the tops of trees, fly, hibernate, freeze, burrow
underground, jump high, breathe underwater, walk on walls, hang upside
down, and more! These exciting abilities make animals appealing and in-
stantly captivating for children. Because they have special abilities, these
animals hold children’s attention and can be great teachers.
Children’s love for animals and their many abilities can be expressed
through pretend play. When children can play at being animals, they’re free
of the limitations of being human! They imagine that they can climb the
tallest trees and swing from vines and branches. They can fly in the clouds,
swim in the deepest oceans, or strike fear into the hearts of weaker, smaller
creatures. Playing with these fantasies is not only fun, but it can help chil-
dren feel powerful and strong, too. As discussed in chapter 3, it also helps
children build empathy and compassion toward animals and other people
and deepens their positive feelings for them.
For many children, animals, especially pets in the home, represent safety
and security. They are familiar, they are safe to talk to, and they are a source
of comfort and love. Because animals are appealing and reassuring, they are
often a source of comfort that children will seek out to process their feelings.
When my own children reacted with fear to a loud thunderstorm, it was
comforting to them to see that the dog was also afraid. As our dog Nina paced
around the bedroom and whined, the children spoke in soothing tones to