While some children are fascinated with caterpillars, others are scared of them. Their first instinct might be to kill them. Teaching your children to have respect for nature is an effective way to introduce them to traits such as compassion and kindness. These lessons will save the life of a caterpillar and spill over into other areas of your child's life.
Show your child a picture of a caterpillar or give her one to hold. Explain that the caterpillar is a living creature and that it is not acceptable for her to step on one. She might not know this action is wrong unless you tell her, especially if she has seen someone stepping on a caterpillar in the past.
Give your child a consequence if she steps on a caterpillar. The consequence should be related to the child's age. Younger children might need to sit in time-out or give up one of their favorite toys. Older children might need to read a book and write a report on caterpillars or help at an animal shelter.
Demonstrate kindness toward caterpillars in front of your child. If you see one on a sidewalk, pick it up and set it down on a leaf so it won't be accidentally stepped on.
Give your child a caterpillar to take care of. The caterpillar will need a Mason jar or plastic container to live in until it transforms into a butterfly. Add a stick to the jar for the caterpillar to crawl on, plant leaves to munch on and a spritz of water every day for a drink. Once the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, you can take your child outside to set it free.
Praise your child every time he treats a caterpillar with kindness. Let him know which positive character traits he is displaying, which will help him develop a positive self-perception, PBS Kids' Sprout Online recommends.
Read your child the book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle, if you can't physically care for a caterpillar. Your child will still get to see the transformation the caterpillar makes in the book.