This young lady was TERRIFIED by mere pictures of our native snake species. When I finally brought out a live snake, she was on the verge of tears and wanted to run. I encouraged her to sit as far away as she felt comfortable… so, with her eyes welling up, she retreated to the far wall with her leaders.
After we talked about snakes for a bit and started handling them, she came with a leader to ask if she could try touching one… then she wanted to try holding part of Robert the corn snake. My jaw practically hit the floor when she asked to have a ball python across her shoulders. I nearly FAINTED when she asked to take on bold, curious Sandy the Florida king! By the end, she was happily enjoying quality time with cute little Dave, the Honduran milksnake.
All it takes is patience & affirmation… letting them know that it’s okay to be anxious about weird animals, especially snakes, and that *I* am the weird one for loving them as I do. Let them come to their own decisions. Allow children the safety and freedom to test their own boundaries, without pressure or judgement, and most kids can find courage that we adults can only aspire to.