Animals are sentient beings, and it is often one of a parent’s main goals to ensure that their child has a respect for the feelings and awareness of all creatures...great and small. It’s easy to assume that this might come naturally, but some children don’t have a natural instinct for being gentle, making guidance in this area essential.
As a side benefit of learning respect for creatures, children are more likely to develop empathy towards people - a characteristic that will serve them well growing up and in adulthood. If you don’t have a family pet (and even if you do), you can’t go wrong with spending time in nature and taking time to observe the wildlife. Children are often fascinated by squirrels, birds, farm animals and ducks, so they can learn so much just from your own back garden and local countryside.
There are of course petting farms, wildlife centre and zoos that enable families to visit and learn about more exotic animals, and contrary to the negative press, many of these are actually rehabilitative or shelters for animals that might not survive in the wild. Assuming this is the case, the petting and feeding opportunities they offer can be invaluable in helping kids practice kindness to animals.