Getting kids to love not-so-cute critters

Teaching respect for insects, fish, and other non-mammals can have positive impacts on children’s development—and their love for the planet.

“We don’t squish daddy longlegs!”

I have no idea how many times I’ve said these words to my three-year-old only to see him bring down a plastic bat on yet another noble arachnid. He’s never been harmed by one of these spider-cousins, and in fact, daddy longlegs have no way to hurt a human. And yet something about all those wispy legs invokes a fight-or-flight response for him in a way that kittens do not.  

Of course, lots of kids smash invertebrates. And plenty of adults don’t think twice before killing certain kinds of animals.

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