How to Teach Children Not to Step on Caterpillars: 5 Steps
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Make sure this caterpillar doesn't meet an untimely demise.

Despite their fuzzy cuteness, caterpillars seem to be a prime target for little feet. They do make a delightful, squishy mess. As adults, though, we know that this is just plain mean. When you catch your child being mean towards animals, you need to nip it in the bud. Teach her to respect all life.


  1. 1
    Empathize with the caterpillar when she steps on one. You want her to understand that the caterpillar might feel things. Whenever your child does something, she wants your attention and approval. By giving the attention to the poor caterpillar, it shocks her into thinking about what she did.
  2. 2
    Read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." This classic book tells of the transformation from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly. Many children don't realize that caterpillars go on to become butterflies, which are your child probably loves. Once she knows that she's stepping on a "future butterfly," she may be less likely to do so.
  3. 3
    Question her before she steps on a caterpillar. Once you've begun teaching her the idea that stepping on caterpillars isn't very nice, you may find her still lifting her foot. It's mostly out of habit. If you can catch her before she brings it down on the unsuspecting creature, she may think twice. A simple, "Whoa! Are you going to step on that pretty green caterpillar?" can stop her in her tracks.
  4. 4
    Praise her for doing the right thing. When you see her being nice to caterpillars, point it out. Even if she needed a reminder to not hurt him, she will enjoy your praise.
  5. 5
    Extend the thinking to include all bugs. Caterpillars aren't the only bug that attract tiny feet. She might step on any bugs she sees. This can get confusing if you kill bugs in the house, but you might adopt a rule that "It's OK to kill bugs when they come into our home, but if we're in their home, we don't kill them."


  • You can purchase a kit that includes a butterfly in a cocoon to show your child how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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