What is it about bugs that fascinates kids? They’re fuzzy, have wings, lots of legs and sometimes light up! Rather than squishing every bug, there are some ways to guide a child’s interest and challenge them. The more they know, the more of a healthy appreciation and respect they will have for bugs and other squiggly things as adults.
Remember the Eric Carle book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Every thirty seconds, someone in the world buys a copy! You either read it to your kids or grandchildren, or might remember someone doing the same for you. It’s message is one of growth, development and hope.
Teach children to observe a bug’s behavior before interacting. Like with dogs or cats, we’re not sure which are friendly and which we should stay away from. Talking about the dangers of some bugs will make kids more cautious and less afraid of being bitten or stung. Knowing what to do when a bee comes near takes the fear out of the behavior.
Bugs are the perfect tools to introduce science and biology to kids in a fun and engaging way. Go on walks or hikes, depending upon your child’s age, and use a field guide or smart phone app to help kids identify bugs they encounter. Some stores sell kits or nets to catch (and release) bugs and butterflies. Once you find them, it’s easy to observe how many legs they have, parts of the body, if it has wings, etc. Maybe keep a bug journal to record what you find out and, even better, draw a sketch of the insect.
As the adult, you need to do your homework. Be ready to answer your child’s questions – or at least find the best ways to do so. Don’t “dumb down” the information, but rather simplify it to fit your child’s level. Keep it brief and simple so they don’t lose interest. Give them interesting information, too, not just the encyclopedia definition. Tell them stories of encounters you’ve had. Visit museums and interactive exhibits on a weekend family outing.
You may not want to tackle the “birds and bees” explanation this way, but it’s a great opportunity to study the lifecycles of insects through metamorphosis – egg, larva, pupa, adult. The most common and fun one to examine is that of a caterpillar to a butterfly. You can order a live butterfly kit for kids to observe at home. After the change, letting the butterflies go is satisfying experience and another important lesson to teach children.
By embracing a child’s natural curiosity about bugs, we teach our children to work with nature and not against it. It’s a great way to be outdoors, enjoy time together, offer fun arts & crafts activities, provide learning experiences and just make great family memories.
If creepy crawlies are getting the best of you at your home, call a pest professional to eliminate them in a safe and effective way.