Apr 12, 2014

Child Killing Insects and Small Animals

Category: Children
Posted By: Michael

Question: I have a 5yr old grand daughter. Today we found a snail in the front yard and I asked her to place it in a safe area to protect it from harm. When I returned moments later she had crushed it.  I felt horrible and worry that this is not bode well for the future.  I told her mom, my daughter, and her standard answer is she is still a baby and she did not reprimand her.  I am concerned, Michael

Answer: Dear Michael, I do understand your concern, the idea that our beautiful little children and grandchildren could have such murderous feelings is rather disturbing.  However, it is also very common and normal, all children do have these feelings of anger, rage and murderousness and sometimes act on them.

Having said that I don’t think that means that we ignore them or write them off as being okay.  I do think that it is part of our role as parents and grandparents to help our children to understand these feelings that they have and that it is not okay to act on these feelings or take them out on others, other children, animals, etc.  It is one of the most important roles of parenting to help children manage their very strong feelings and impulses.  We can do this by first managing our own feelings and then helping them with theirs.

There is a difficulty if her mother is of a different opinion, but as her mother is still your child then you still have a role to play in gently thinking with her about the issue and thinking through why it is that the child you both love is struggling with such strong feelings and how you can all help her to manage them more appropriately.

It isn’t an easy issue because parents often feel resentful of interference, especially by their own parents, so it would need care and tact and a very non-judgmental way of approaching it.

I really wish you well in managing your family and commend you for taking the time and care to think carefully about your granddaughter.

Best wishes,


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