5 Ideas for Talking to your kids about Climate Change
Gut wrenching: When I think about talking to my kids about the state of the climate and environment.
As a child I remember the awkwardness of serious talks from my parents. They were talks like menstruation, safe adults and the ‘no secrets’ rules.
Parents today have those talks and so many more. Cyber bullying, pornography, online safety. We add corona virus, cancer and climate change to the list and it’s a wonder anyone can remain positive!
The fires in Western United States have once again devastated families claiming their lives and their homes. My heart is heavy for them. As of the moment I wrote this 12% of Oregon population has been evacuated making them refugees during a global pandemic and civil rights movement. 2020 has certainly brought to the surface the need for change in our world in many ways.
While I sit and think about all the things I want to change about myself in terms of waste and carbon footprint I am aware of the need but unsure of how to talk to my kids about why we are making these changes. Why is mommy so strict now about No Kinder Surprise Eggs or leaving the TV on? Why are we changing our favorite snack foods? I want my kids to be on board and excited about positive change. I want them to understand and be proud of living a greener life.
Today my home town has the worst air quality in the world. The smoke from my beloved neighbors in the US is giving my babies headaches and forcing them off the beach and in front of the TV. Is this smoke my signal? I can avoid the topic for so long but when the side effects of climate change and the devastation of families is literally surrounding my body and filling my lungs in the form of yellow smog I have to ask myself some hard questions about my willingness to confront my wasteful life and warn my children of the potential fate of their world.
I find talking to kids about climate challenging.
I want to be honest with them but not scare them. I want to instill a sense of responsibility and not powerlessness. I want to impress the gravity of the situation but not despair. I want them to take pride in the land they live on without a sense of ownership or authority.
It seems a daunting task but I’m ready to undertake it. With my husband on board we are going to have ‘the talk’ which is really a series of small talks and fun activities. My kids are nearing 6 and 3. Our conversation will be different from other household with older kids.
5 Considerations for Talking to Kids your kids about climate change
Using positive reinforcement to track motivate and reward the actions we take is more effective then negative reinforcement such as taking away something for lack of action.
Hands on Activity
Kids learn through doing. Make things fun and age appropriate!
Age and Attention
Let’s not attempt to offer a 10 point lecture to a 6 year old. It won’t work! Remember to keep your kids in attention span in mind.
Some kids feel things very deeply and pictures of dying polar bears or wildfires will send them into a funk. Remember to keep the conversations positive about what we can do make a positive change and not what damage is already done.
Give kids tangible examples of how they can help in their own lives starting in your home today! Here are some Examples:
- Using the Compost bin and not the garbage
- Turning off electronics and lights
- Washing recyclable containers and placing in the appropriate bins
- Learning to read recycling codes on the bottom of containers
- Choosing plastic free treats and toys
- Sewing patches on tears to make things last longer such as pencil cases and back packs.
- Brainstorm ideas for up-cycling old materials such as clothing into blankets or scraps into art. (Note: up-cycle story coming soon)
Leave a question or comment below with your own ideas or struggles. Join the community for conversations with other parents. How do you feel about talking to kids about the environment? Have your kids surprised you in their actions or words?
Download the infographic on the Quick Eco Tips link for a handy summary of these considerations with real life examples for greener homes with kids!
If you are local to BC I found the gift-shop for the MER Society BC (Marine Education and Research Society) has some excellent books for kids to learn about life in the ocean! And cute animal felting kits for crafty teens and preteens.