Many children today don’t learn to think at all about the environment. Others do, of course, but if there’s no example set, what else can be expected?
This is something important for all parents to consider, although it can be easier for stay at home parents such as myself to set the example.
I consider keeping to the facts to be one of the most important things you can do. You want your children to trust you, and if they find out you exaggerated, there goes some of that trust
This can be challenging. Trying to explain the issues at age appropriate levels is not easy. You can start off at a fairly young age, however. Preschoolers can be great about turning off lights and asking before throwing items in the trash or recycling bins. They love helping in the garden. All very simple, very preschooler friendly.
As they get older you can discuss some of the more serious issues. Why we don’t want to produce more garbage than we have to, for example. You can also get into why you have to be more careful about disposing of things such as electronics and batteries.
Then there are endangered species, rain forests, air quality and water quality issues you can teach about. Exactly when each is appropriate can depend on the interests of your children. Some will love animals intensely at a very early age and may want to learn about endangered species early. Others will not.
Perhaps the most important thing you can teach your children is what they, as individuals can do. It can be hard to realize how much just one person can do. Discuss the big choices as well as the little ones that can mean so much.
Little choices can include such things as merely deciding to recycle, picking which items to buy and so forth. Bigger choices can include the car you drive and how you power your home.
Especially as they approach high school age, it can be good to encourage your children to become more actively involved in the issues that particularly interest them. I do strongly encourage you to allow them to pick their own causes, rather than your own pet cause. The main thing is that they participate, not that they do only what you think is most important.
Getting involved can start at a very early age. If you make it just a fact of life, children can learn to think about the environment as they grow. The younger green habits start, the easier they should be to live with.