Is your child curious about “creepy crawlies”? It’s only natural for kids to show an interest in anything and everything new to them — including Insects.
On the other hand, it also isn’t uncommon for children to outright fear them. According to a 2021 National Geographic article by Nicole Johnson, childhood is a ripe time to start training oneself to overcome the initial feelings of fear and disgust one might feel at the sight of unfamiliar bugs.
Whether the bugs your child normally sees are beautiful Butterflies or hardworking Ants, here are five ways to encourage your child’s love of bugs or change your bug- fearing little one’s mind.
WAYS TO MAKE BUGS FUN
Younger children are more likely to look at the people around them to understand how to perceive anything foreign to them.
While some Insects could be dangerous, others are harmless; learning how to differentiate between the two early in life could open up a world of fun where children respect and love bugs instead of fear them.
TALK ABOUT BUGS
This may sound like a no-brainer, but having an earnest discussion with your child about bugs can spell the difference between unfounded fears and careful curiosity. Help them understand that every animal, including Humans, serves a purpose.
It’s never too early to introduce your child to the concept of ecosystems: Bees might sting, but they help plants grow and survive. Cockroaches might not look the prettiest, but they play an important role in the food chain.
Every little creature has their place in this world.
Take the time to plan bug games depending on your child’s age.
If your toddler has shown an interest in bugs, you can teach them the basics of Insect movement. Have them imitate how a Grasshopper hops, how a Butterfly flies, or how a Spider dances. This helps them understand how bugs move and allows them a little exercise at the same time.
If your child is a little older, take a trip to the park or explore your own garden with a magnifying glass. Who knows how many bugs they’ll find so close to home! This could even become a simple contest for your child and their friends: Whoever finds the most bugs wins.
COMPOST WITH WORMS
Lots of children love Worms. They’re tiny, cute, and natural recyclers!
If your little one tends to collect Worms on their own, create a Worm compost bin you can keep in a safe space in your kitchen or somewhere in your garden. Whenever you have food waste like banana peels or expired bread, put them in your compost bin. Your wrigglers will speed up the composting process, teaching your child how to recycle and care for Worms simultaneously.
USE BUG-CATCHING KITS
If your home is rife with Flies, Ants, or Mosquitoes, consider buying bug-catching kits for yourself and for your child. Easily found online, these kits are easy to use and help humanely catch little critters instead of instantly killing them.
There are Insect-exploring toys for children, bug traps for adults, and kid-friendly bug terrariums your child can keep their new friend in while caring for them.
MEET BUG EXPERTS
If you’ve already bought your child all the bug books in your area and watched all the bug-related cartoons and movies they might like, it’s time for the next step: meeting a bug expert or entomologist.
Don’t be afraid to contact local universities that might have the expert you’re looking for. Your child’s interest in or love of bugs might just flower into a unique career path that is becoming more and more relevant in the age of climate change.