A verse from a nature song that my children like to listen to says:
“Be kind to your four-footed friends,
Be kind to your four-footed friends,
A poke makes a turtle retreat at both ends,
And you can’t make a turtle come out, come out,
You can’t make a turtle come out” (Malvina Reynolds)
When my three-year-old son finds a toad and is being less than gentle, I like to sing that to him as a reminder that even the smallest creature deserves to be treated with kindness. From the very start, I try to teach them that all creatures are God’s creatures, worthy of being cherished and respected. I tell them this, and do my best to model it for them through my own interest and appreciation. An attitude of kindness is therefore born from valuing the other. This is also key in teaching children kindness towards other people; they learn that everyone is God’s creation and therefore valuable and deserving of their kindness, be they toad or toddler.
Noël Miller is a stay-at-home mother, writer and photographer. She was born and raised in Chicagoland where she lives with her husband and their three little ones (ages baby to five). She writes about faith, family, and home at www.theologyofpie.com.