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If you’re an average American mom, you probably aren’t especially fond of spiders or roaches. Maybe you don’t even like lizards or grasshoppers.
Maybe you don’t have anything against them, but it’s never really occurred to you to teach your children about bugs.
Working at a daycare, I encountered children with all kinds of different feelings towards creepy crawlies. And I bet I can guess how their mom felt about creepy crawlies based on the way they reacted.
I’ve talked before about the importance of modeling as a parent. Children see what you do, and they learn to act in situations based on the way they see you act in those situations.
If they see you scream and run away from a spider, they learn that this is an appropriate response when encountering arachnids. If they see daddy kill every bug that gets near mommy, they learn that bugs should be killed.
There are two main considerations to take into account with regards to creepy crawlies:
1) fear and 2) the environment.
Let’s talk about fear first.
Did you know that fear has a genetic component? Not only can we model fear for our children, but can also pass on some of those tendencies genetically.
My fellow blogger Katie over at I Choose Brave has a lot to say about living life, being married, and parenting bravely. Part of being a brave parent (and a good parent!) is overcoming our own fears in order to teach our children bravery. It’s okay for them to see you be scared, but it’s even more important that they see you be brave.
Teaching them the difference between creepy crawlies that can hurt them and creepy crawlies that are harmless prepares them to deal with each type in a different manner. Children are naturally curious, but knowledge is power. They need to know they don’t have to be afraid of the bumblebee, but they also don’t need to pick it up with their bare hands.
I don’t know any parent who wants to see their children living in fear, but it can often sneak in without us realizing it. We have to actively resist it, for us and for our children.
Another big reason to teach children about creepy crawlies is because they are super important to the environment! (here is a great website for teaching kids why bugs are important)
Bugs help decompose waste, fertilize plants, and produce materials we use in everyday life.
Part of raising environmentally conscious children is teaching them how the different roles creepy crawlies play in sustaining our earth. Wouldn’t you rather see your child learning about ants than kicking over an anthill?
The more they know, the less likely they are to get hurt, and the more likely they are to become responsible citizens of the environment as they grow up.
So what are some ways you can teach your kids about creepy crawlies?
Take a Nature Walk
This is one of the easier ways to teach kids about nature. You’re sure to see some bugs or lizards just by going for a walk in the woods or the park. Help children identify the creatures they see, and talk about the role they each play in the environment.
You may not know them all, and that’s okay! It’s a learning experience for the whole family. You can take a picture of a bug you don’t know and look it up when you get home.
Start an Ant Farm
This is a great way to get up close and personal and observe how ants behave and interact with each other.
When I was a kid, I kept a terrarium full of ladybugs. They’re easy to keep as pets, and much less messy than your average cat or dog.
Just make sure that if you go this route, you’re providing food for your creepy crawlies!
Read Books about Insects
Take some books out from your local library and learn all the scientific side of creepy crawlies. Learn new things together and discuss what you’ve learned. Ask questions and see if you can figure out the answers.
Alternatively, if your children aren’t really old enough for sciencey books, try out some of Eric Carle’s famous children’s books about creepy crawlies, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Very Busy Spider.