22 - 24 Months

Is squashing bugs OK? 5 environmental lessons your toddler can learn now

Young child holding a magnifying glass while looking at a rock outside.

“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”

Bradley Miller

You see a spider crawling up the side of the bathtub. Your toddler is watching. Quick! What do you do?

We each have our way. Some of us trap unwanted insects found indoors and shepherd them outside, and some of us do what we must. 

So, what about toddler bug squashing? Some children have a natural tendency to want to exert their power over smaller living things. This probably has to do with the fact that kids rarely feel “big” and here, they get a chance to show that they are. 

That’s understandable, but in many places around the world, children are taught to respect the well-being of “mini-beasts” like bees, ants, and worms. Squashing or stomping on insects and worms outside, in certain cultures and families, is considered inappropriate. That may be worth thinking about. 

Here are five early environmental lessons your toddler may be ready for now:

Respect living things

Young child looking through a magnifying glass at some rocks while sitting outside.

If your toddler stomps on or squashes a bug or worm outside, teach them that being bigger means protecting smaller things, or at least leaving them alone. It may take a while for your toddler to be able to do this.

Pick up litter

Your toddler will love to be helpful in this way. Bring a couple of plastic or washable reusable bags when you go on a hike, to the park, or just out and about. You can bring your Lovevery tweezers and have your toddler use them to pick up the trash. 

Turn off the lights

Young child standing on a stool flipping a light switch.

Get a lightweight stool your toddler can easily move around. Ask them to turn off the lights and see if they can get the stool and reach the switch on their own. Your toddler will feel so capable! 

Sort waste

Young child placing a can in a recycling bin.

Toddlers love to sort and put things in bins. If your recycling and compost are easy for them to access, ask your toddler to put the cans, paper, cardboard, etc in the right spot. 

Two pumps

Young child getting soap from a dispenser next to a kitchen sink.

Toddlers LOVE to pump and pump and pump the soap. Teach your toddler to count “1 …2” pumps of soap. Talk about how it is wasteful to use more.


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Posted in: 22 - 24 Months, Cause and Effect, Identity, House Tours, Playtime and Activities, Child Development

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