Design For Life

Advice column: My young son is showing troubling signs of cruelty to insects

This week, psychotherapist Dr Colman Noctor advises a parent on teaching their child the importance of being kind, caring and nurturing toward living creatures

If a child is observed being cruel to animals, you should explain very clearly that it is not okay to hit or mistreat living creatures

Dear Expert,

I’m looking for advice on how to deal with some worrying behaviour in my six-year-old son. He has always been curious about nature and loves nothing more than exploring parks or the countryside. He is fascinated by animals and insects, and we have encouraged this.

Last summer, he started catching insects in the garden and hiding them around the house in jars or boxes. I thought this was fairly harmless. But then I ...