How Do You Teach a Child to Be Gentle?

Published Feb 23, 2015

In our Tiny Treks classes we explore nature with young children.

In one of our classes we found some Roly Poly’s or Pill Bugs. The children made a circle around the bugs and watched them as the uncurled and moved slowly on the earth. They learned that when the Roly Poly felt threatened it would curl up in a ball.

One of the children held a bug in his hand. He was mesmerized.

He stood there simply holding this little black bug as it crawled on him. He knew if he tried to touch it, the bug would curl up in a ball.  He held it carefully, so the bug would keep crawling.

We spent more time than we could have imagined simply holding these precious bugs as each child had a chance to experience first hand what it meant to be gentle.

We knew we could carry this lesson that unfolded naturally in the forest to other parts of their lives. We could use this moment of holding a little creature to help them understand how to treat a younger or older sibling.

We did not spend time lecturing them on what is gentle, they were able to embrace and experience it first hand in a magnificent way.

Recipe to Teach A Child to Be Gentle


  • An ant hill
  • A rock or dirt where a Roly Poly/Pill Bug may live
  • A loving adult
  • A young child


  • Take the time to look and observe an ant hill or under a rock for a Roly Poly.
  • Guide a child to observe the bug or ant.
  • Gently place the bug in a child’s outstretched hand.

Cooking time:

This is the key to the entire experience, there is no set time. Some children can observe an ant hill for 30 minutes and others for two minutes. Take the time to give the child time.

Watch and Truly Enjoy!

Pamela Worth is the owner of Tiny Treks. Tiny Treks classes have encouraged families to get outside and explore for over 16 years.  Visit our website at or our Facebook page Facebook Tiny Treks.

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