Climate change is one of those topics your kids are going to hear about eventually. If you think about it from a child’s perspective, it’s a kind of scary thing to think about. They take things such as the possibility that polar bears will go extinct due to melting ice in the Arctic very seriously and even personally.
It’s hard to balance protecting your kids with growing informed citizens who will care about the environment. Kids care almost too much for their own good.
Keep It Age Appropriate
It’s not always easy keeping talks about the environment and climate change age appropriate. Kids just have to catch a news story or educational program to start asking questions you aren’t sure how to answer.
My #1 rule has always been to keep it honest but age appropriate.
Try to focus on the things you can do as a family to help the environment. Discuss using less, recycling, driving less and so forth. Talk about why you make the choices you do.
As kids get old enough, start looking for appropriate volunteer opportunities. If your child has a particular interest, try to have the opportunity match it.
You can also help kids to learn the difference between climate and weather. This is one of those things it seems many adults have trouble with, but it could be an advantage in discussions if your kids do understand that weather is short term and climate is long term.
Get Into Nature
Kids will appreciate nature more if they see it in person. Not just the backyard or the local playground, go hiking and camping. If there are campgrounds in your area, you shouldn’t need to go far.
Try making hiking and camping a part of family vacations, especially if you travel to an unfamiliar place. Talk about how things change from place to place.
If you happen to know how climate change is impacting an area you’re in, you can talk about the evidence for it. It’s not always definite enough to blame changes on climate change, but other times you can see that the climate of an area is not what it used to be.
Talk About Local Issues
Climate change is not all about polar bears dying and glaciers melting. It’s also about what’s happening in your own area.
Is water becoming an issue? How has climate change effected winters in your area?
Find out together what’s going on with your local climate. If you don’t know much about the local situation already, you may learn some really interesting things yourself.
Read a Book Together
There are a range of books available that can help you to discuss climate change basics with your kids, all the way up to more advanced discussions. A good book can explain climate change in ways you probably won’t think of on your own. Here are some titles to consider buying or looking for at your local library:
The Magic School Bus And The Climate Challenge
A Kids’ Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming: How to Take Action!
How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming
Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate–and How Humans Are Changing Them
Climate: Causes and Effects of Climate Change (Our Fragile Planet)