The Rabbit Friendly Child
by Judith Pierce
11:02 PM, Friday, February 10
Whether you bring a baby home to your rabbit’s home or are bringing a bunny home to your child’s house, you must be mindful of the new dynamics this will create in your family. Children and rabbits are not always a great mix. Naturally exuberant children can be frightening to rabbits, as can the young child’s desire to hold, pull on ears, prod and poke, be a concern to your rabbit’s safety.

Quick tips to follow in teaching your young children about living with a rabbit:

  • Choose a time of day when your child is quieter teach him about the rabbit and for playing with your rabbit.
  • Set both your child and the rabbit up for success by showing your child how to interact with bunny, and by giving your rabbit a place to hide away when she’s had enough.
  • Try to use positive words to change the child’s behavior with the rabbit. Redirect the child’s inappropriate activity to one that’s better, such as petting bunny gently with a flat hand. Offer choices for behavior so your child is not always getting into trouble for interacting with the rabbit. Praise your child when he acts kindly and gently towards the rabbit.
  • If your child refuses to stop a behavior that can be harmful to the rabbit, keep him away from the rabbit for a short time. Set up the rabbit’s living area so she has a “safe zone” that cannot be accessed by small children. Turn the door towards the wall so it cannot be easily opened.
  • If your child has friends over and the atmosphere is noisy, place bunny in a closed-off room where she cannot be seen or accessed by playmates. It’s better they don’t even know the rabbit is there.
  • Refrain from introducing the rabbit to your children’s playmates for at least a week or two. Show your children’s friends where the rabbit lives and how to pet him, at times when only one or two children are visiting.

Some key “Bunny Rules” will teach children that bunny is to be respected and treated with care.

Bunny Rule#1: Gentle petting only. Sit with your child on the floor and show him how to pet the bunny with a “soft hand.” Using the back of the hand is a good method.

Bunny Rule#2: Leave the rabbit alone when she hops away or goes into her “house.” Rabbits need private time and can become territorial over their space. Prevent your child getting bit by a rabbit feeling trespassed upon.

Bunny Rule#3: Don’t touch droppings or litter. A rabbit’s droppings are harmless, but you don’t want your child digging through the box.

Bunny Rule#4: We don’t pick up the bunny. Teaching your children to interact with your rabbit on the floor, at her level, will promote trust and prevent bunny from being accidentally harmed.

Lastly, your children will follow your example so be sure you implement the rules above to ensure the happy co-existence of your rabbit and your children.

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