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Age of children to start discussing food chain


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Age for beginning discussions of food chain  

88 members have voted

  1. 1. How old were your children when you first started talking about eating animals and animals eating other animals?

    • 1
      38
    • 2
      31
    • 3
      13
    • 4
      5
    • 5
      1
    • Older than 5
      1


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We have always been matter of fact about the meat we eat coming from cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc. We have talked to dd some when at places like Cabela's where they have mounted animals carrying other mounted animals in their mouths. Over the last several weeks we have had more opportunity because of plastic animals and puppets to discuss that some animals eat other animals and that some animals will run and try to get away from the animals that want to eat them. We have been pretty matter of fact and dd has not been upset in the least and she is even using it in some of her play between her animals now.

 

Dh grew up on a farm and grew up hunting and fishing, I grew up fishing some and don't ever remember not knowing where food came from.

 

My SIL is very emotional about the subject and they didn't tell their dd where the meat comes from that we eat until she was about to start kindergarden and then they only told her because they thought she would get upset if the topic came up in school. Said child does not eat much if any meat now and probably at least partly due to this.

 

SIL is visiting and wasn't thrilled that dh was talking to dd about dogs chasing rabbits. I know that she is overly sensitive about it. I just wanted to know what age others start talking about it with their kids.

 

My answer to the poll is age 2.

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My just turned three year old has a pretty solid understanding of what animals eat what. He's loved dinosaurs for a long time, and I think that was his first intro to herbivore vs. carnivore. We never hid it from him, but I did try not to make a big, scary deal out of it. It was all very matter of fact. He'll talk about camouflage and ways animals hide from predators. My dad talks about going fishing and eating them for dinner. He sees the occasional picture of a fish my dad catches.

 

ETA: He can be quite sensitive about some things (he asked to stop watching an episode of Curious George last week because it was too scary :) ), but the whole food chain thing doesn't seem to phase him. I just remembered that he did go through a phase about six months ago where he found some carnivores (mostly big cats) scary, but that was pretty short lived.

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We have also talked with dd alot about how some animals could hurt her, and that we don't want to be close to them, but they are neat to watch and learn about from a distance, so it is the start of trying to teach her to respect wild animals without being fearful of them. Dd has also seen us cook crawfish which like crab have to be cooked while they are alive.

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This isn't something I'd put a limit on, but don't recall the conversation coming up before 2. For us it talked about as the opportunity presented itself. Perhaps playing with plastic animals, going to the zoo, or going to the local farm/park. All of these things we started doing before age 2.

 

If the family is omnivorous and the topic is discussed in context of play and observation then I don't see how this can be a sensitive topic. If you hide it or deny it and make it a terrible secret then the child will not have a good reaction. Children often do well with stuff presented in a matter of fact manner during everyday interaction with thir environment. If you hide something and then present it later because"you need to" you've put special emphasis on the topic by your own actions and therefore made a basic topic sensitive when it did not need to be.

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Couldn't have been older than 2. My youngest was a bit obsessed with death at that time. My kids did go through a brief period of not wanting to eat meat after realizing where it came from. ... I used to have a neighbor whose little daughter wouldn't eat/drink milk products after realizing they "came from an udder!" I pointed out that ice cream was a milk product, and then she wouldn't eat that either. I'm pretty sure she got over that eventually, LOL.

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I put down one...but that's simply because it's something we talk about as a family (and we get into the whole "circle of life" thing pretty early, too). I never sat down my 1 year old and talked to him/her, though. And, because it's something we discussed matter of factly with my oldest, my younger children have always known.

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I put down one...but that's simply because it's something we talk about as a family (and we get into the whole "circle of life" thing pretty early, too). I never sat down my 1 year old and talked to him/her, though. And, because it's something we discussed matter of factly with my oldest, my younger children have always known.

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My kids ask me all the time where the things they eat come from, if it's a plant or an animal, etc. We havenever done anything other than tell the truth. It seems silly not to. It's a steak, not Santa Claus. :-) It can be used as an opportunity to talk about not wasting food, etc as well.

 

Unless your SIL were a vegetarian, her position of lying/hiding the truth would make no sense to me. If she thought meat eating was so awful that she needs to hide the truth of it from her kid, why does she eat meat at all???

 

We were watching part of LIFE, teh BBC series. At one point, my then 4 year old son watched Komodo dragons poison, stalk, then eat a still-living water buffalo. I was totally freaking out, having not previewed the film prior, and kept trying to turn it off. He insisted on watching the whole thing. I tentatively asked him what he thought about it all, and he said, "Well, everything's gotta eat something." LOL. Not even phased!!!

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I said '3' but it was just whenever it came up naturally. I never hid it from the boys and I'm sure I mentioned it when discussing farm animals at some point. It might well have been earlier.

 

We lived in cities at the time and had little contact with the realities of farming.

 

L

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Like I said SIL is emotional about it, but she does still eat meat, and it is her choice when she says what to my niece. I am a little more concerned about her reaction around my dd. We don't spend a lot of time with SIL as we live in different states and we still have the most influence on dd and I just hope she doesn't pick up on the attitude. By the way SIL grew up on the farm right along with dh. Sometimes it blows my mind how different the 2 of them are.

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Whenever it came up, I really don't remember. I usually go and butcher chickens every year and the kids are there for that, otherwise if they ask what they are eating I tell them. It has never been a big deal. On this subject I have an aunt who won't eat eggs from my mom's farm but will from the store, regular eggs mind you it isn't as if she prefers organic or such. Same with meat.

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Oh my.i can't even remember. My kids know animals eat other animals and they know we eat cows as my hubby and his friends get together every 6 months or so and go to a farm to have a cow killed for all the families. One of their favorite games is having me chase them saying " I am a dinosaur I am coming up to eat you" and they run and hide. It is quite mater of fact around here.

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I always assumed when I talked about eating chicken or fish or whatever, tha my kids understood what that meant, because the word for the meat is the same as the animal. My kids see stray cats eating small animals outside, and robins eating worms. I don't remember a deep conversation when a big secret was revealed.

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My kids spend way too much time outdoors for them not to catch on to this naturally. I couldn't hide normal life from them if I tried.

 

I answered 1, but I never really sat down and talked with any of them about it. They figured it out on their own.

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I wouldn't say we had a lot of formal talks. But, we live in a rural, agricultural area with lots of hunting, fishing, and domestic food production. We did many nature hikes when the kids were little and wildlife museums, natural history museums, etc. were all a part of our travels and excursions so we didn't attempt to sugar coat anything.

 

Faith

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Dh hunts (along with papa and grandma) and we all fish so she learned early. She has caught fish that we have eaten for dinner, she asks where the different things she eats comes from. Oh and we watch a lot of nature shows as well. I see no problems with it. She seems to eat better when she knows where things are from and has helped prepare the meal. :)

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We've just always talked about it. It never occured to me not to tell them where their food comes from. DH is a vegetarian though so that's also been part of discussions as to why he might choose to eat something different to the rest of us. We do live in a rural area though so I can't really see how they would get very far without figuring out what the the cows in the field opposite our house were being farmed for.

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I would think this would be something you would actually have to hide in order for your kids not to know. We've always had at minimum a pet cat. My kids definitely noticed the cat eating mice and birds and then all the nature shows on TV. I voted 2 because I think that they had to have been aware by that age.

 

ETA: My dh is also a hunter and fisherman. He and his buddy would clean the geese and ducks and salmon in our kitchen. Kind of hard to miss that! Lol

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My kids have always known where their food comes from. No formal conversations, but it's never been hidden. My five year old talks about the venison in our freezers that came from a deer that a friend hunted as well as the cow in our freezers and the turkey daddy hunted and we ate. Not to mention all the fish we ate last summer that daddy caught.

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I can definitely understand that it could be upsetting for the child, by the way. I am just not really sure how I *would* hide it. Maybe if I ate lots of, say, venison or beef, or something that has a different name? Anyway we also have vegetarian examples of the food chain, such as wild animals that eat things in our garden that we've probably spent more time about. I have discussed with them the importance of good treatment of animals raised for meat and the importance of proper slaughter technique, so maybe I have talked about this more than I thought!

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I don't ever remember intentionally hiding it. Birds eat bugs and worms, cats eat mice, etc. We live urban, do not hunt, and eat limited meat, but even so, it's never been something I'd intentionally keep from my kids. Our cats bring home "gifts" now and again. I don't even know how I would have been able to hide this from my own kids until age 5.

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I didn't answer the poll since my oldest is 24 and I don't really remember. But I guess it was always= we would go to places like zoos and farms and talk about what eats what and that started when my oldest was less than one. I don't now how much he understood because it turned out he had hearing problems that were finally resolved at 20 months with ear tubes but we did talk with him. The younger kids were not only introduced about it from us the parents but also with their brother and for the youngest, her sister too. They loved watching animal shows on tv and lots of them show lions catching an antelope or what have you.

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I didn't answer the poll since my oldest is 24 and I don't really remember. But I guess it was always= we would go to places like zoos and farms and talk about what eats what and that started when my oldest was less than one. I don't now how much he understood because it turned out he had hearing problems that were finally resolved at 20 months with ear tubes but we did talk with him. The younger kids were not only introduced about it from us the parents but also with their brother and for the youngest, her sister too. They loved watching animal shows on tv and lots of them show lions catching an antelope or what have you.

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I answered 4, but I actually don't remember when it first came up. I don't think my children really understood that the chicken or tuna (for example) people eat were the same as the animal. We had some books explaining about farm animals. We did a food chain project about our local estuary last year which I think helped them to understand our place in the food chain (eating shrimp for example.)

 

Four months ago my daughter (6) found a hermit crab and she wanted to take it home. I said that we couldn't and she wanted to make sure she could see it again. I said a fish might eat it before we get to see it again and that devastated her. When I explained the food chain again and how we eat the fish, she decided to become a vegetarian. That sparked me to look more into the food chain. As a family we decided to be more careful about the food we eat, so we stopped eating chicken and we eat seafood occasionally and vegetarian mainly. (DD is not a vegetarian anymore, she loves popcorn shrimp too much.)

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Unless your dh was gong into graphic detail on what the dog might do to the rabbit, SIL's reaction seems strange to me. I don't know that we would have necessarily tied our dog's habit of chasing rabbits to the food chain, as such, though. The one time the dog actually caught a rabbit, he was so surprised that he didn't know what to do with it and dropped it!

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Unless your dh was gong into graphic detail on what the dog might do to the rabbit, SIL's reaction seems strange to me. I don't know that we would have necessarily tied our dog's habit of chasing rabbits to the food chain, as such, though. The one time the dog actually caught a rabbit, he was so surprised that he didn't know what to do with it and dropped it!

 

 

It wasn't anything other than a dog would chase a rabbit into a hole or it's hiding place. He had a dog that loved to go after rabbits while he was young.

 

I don't know if niece had an idea of where her food was coming from at the time, but it really upset her. SIL has had this issue for as long as I've known her and then some.

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I always assumed when I talked about eating chicken or fish or whatever, tha my kids understood what that meant, because the word for the meat is the same as the animal. My kids see stray cats eating small animals outside, and robins eating worms. I don't remember a deep conversation when a big secret was revealed.

 

 

Pretty much this. My kids don't eat much meat anyway (although dd5 LOVES bacon and I'm pretty sure she knows it's from pigs by now) but I don't remember having to actually tell them that chicken came from chickens, etc. They started going out fishing with dh when they were about 2 or 3 and they know we eat the fish he catches. They watch enough cartoons that mention it in one way or another.

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Maybe. My first inkling is yes, but seriously my son is sensitive about certain things and I have no clue where it comes from. For example, if he sees a bug (even dead) he completely freaks. I don't do this. I never have. So I don't know what to make of that.

That is why I said Sometimes. ;) I'm sure there are many kids that are sensitive in some ways but many times their sensitivity is exaggerated because of parental reaction and there are plenty of kids that are sensitive about certain things because their parents made a big deal over it. I was very afraid of heights as a child and my mom was always very calm about it and encouraged/nudged me to do things anyways. I'm still afraid of heights to a certain extent but I am able to handle it for the most part. If she had gone on and on about how scared I was and not pushed me a bit than I think the outcome would have been different KWIM. I hope that makes sense.

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I always assumed when I talked about eating chicken or fish or whatever, tha my kids understood what that meant, because the word for the meat is the same as the animal. My kids see stray cats eating small animals outside, and robins eating worms. I don't remember a deep conversation when a big secret was revealed.

Not in my kids' case! Dh is a vegetarian, and so are the girls; but I'm not. All three girls at about the age of three announced that 'chicken' had two meanings: one was an animal, and one was a kind of food (which Mommy sometimes eats). It's uncanny how they each independently came up with the same notion.

 

Wee Girl learned recently that big sister's fish had to be separated from her babies so she wouldn't eat them. There was much quiet pondering of that one.

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We are vegetarians here, except my dh. My boys have always (well you know what I mean by always) known were meat comes from.

 

But when they went to French preschool we were on a field trip once. We were eating at a table with other kids. One being about 6 years old. (We were with the kindergarten and grade one class). One kid asked why we weren't eating the provided sandwiches. I stated it was because we were vegetarian. Kid asked, "What's that". I said we, "We don't eat meat." Kid said, "What's meat?" The Mom then hurried me away and told me that I am not to mention to deal little kid what meat was. Suppoesdly kid knew nothing about the fact meat came from animals and they were planning to keep it that way for a while longer since they didn't want to spoil his/her innocent.

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I voted 2, but it was probably earlier than that. I remember oldest DS being about 2.5 and holding the tape for us while DH and his brothers were butchering a deer. I was wrapping the meat with DD in the pack on my back. There was no doubt at all the DS knew exactly what "meat" was and had been.

 

I suppose I don't get the whole "secret" part about where meat comes from. I wouldn't lie to a kid about carrots growing in the ground before we eat them either.

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It's not something we ever hid. We talked about the food chain and I thought both dds really understood it all. So, I was surprised when oldest was four and saw me prepping a Thanksgiving turkey and freaked out (because it still looked so much like a bird). She didn't eat meat again until she was almost 10 years old.

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I couldn't vote because even though my son is only 7 I have no idea when our first conversation along those lines came up. Given his curiosity level, probably not long after he started talking in sentences. I never hide or sugar-coat things for my son, and neither does my husband. On occasion we've had to tell him we can't explain something because he's not old enough to understand it yet, but that usually only comes up when he doesn't understand adult humor.

 

He's aware of where food comes from, including the fact that we don't eat certain things because of humane or environmental considerations. He understands what it means for an animal to be a carnivore, omnivore or herbivore. He knows about death, although his pet rats are the only personal experience he's had with it so far. He also knows there are very bad people in this world who do some unimaginably horrible things to others, but we haven't gone into detail of the more deviant behaviors (we did talk about Sandy Hook in some detail though - my reaction made it necessary - I went to college with one of the parents).

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See I'm not so sure. By the time my kids are served the food it does not necessarily look like where it came from. Even if I roast a chicken, by the time I slice off a piece and they see that on their plate, they aren't thinking a bird that was at one point walking around.

 

Maybe it depends how you cook meat. Someone who likes chicken legs or ribs or something, or cooks the whole animal, might have a better chance. I also don't have a hidden kitchen or meat-carving area. My dining area is in my kitchen. Ain't much hidden around here, I'm afraid.

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Anyone who doesn't like that animals become meat, or don't think it's an appropriate thing for a child to know, should not eat meat. It's pure hypocrisy IMO to be "sensitive" about the issue and not follow through on that ethical issue that you're experiencing.

 

I'd say 2 around here, we talk a lot about animals and nature and where we fit in.

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