As a mother concerned about how the climate of our planet is changing, sometimes it’s hard to decide just what to tell my kids about it. There’s a lot to explain, and it changes as kids grow older. I don’t want to scare them, but I don’t want them casually wasting things either.
What do you tell children about climate change?
When children are really young, I don’t think explaining climate change as such is effective. What is effective is to teach them to not waste food or other items. They can start to learn about recycling.
Young children are usually great about repurposing things you might otherwise throw into the trash. So many things can be parts of various art projects. Sometimes it’s hard to balance keeping things for future projects with keeping clutter out of your home. Once kids get the idea, they’ll often try to keep just about everything you’ll let them.
Kids in Elementary School
Elementary school is a good time to start getting a bit more into the details of why you want your children to recycle and not waste. You can discuss what littering and pollution in general do to the environment, and how your lifestyle can help.
Be aware of what’s being taught at this stage at your child’s school. It may or may not agree with what you want your children to learn about climate change.
I find it important for my children to understand that humans are most likely a factor in global climate change. I don’t mind explaining that some people disagree, because that’s something they’re going to hear at some point. Better they get used to hearing about why we believe as we do than to be confronted with a different perspective they don’t know how to handle.
You should also see what your local schools are doing to reduce waste at their locations. Do they have recycling bins? Do they have a gardening program for the kids? Are they offering information to parents online or by email rather than printing every notice out?
Middle School on Up
The older kids get, the more you can teach them about climate change, individual action and volunteering to make more of a difference.
This is a good time to really get into why you make the shopping choices you do. If your kids are really interested you may have covered this topic at a younger age, but as they get older start talking to them about why you shop where you do. Tell them what’s good about going to thrift stores, especially when they start resisting. Come up with a plan to balance their needs for a particular look with environmental considerations.
Kids in this age group are eligible for many kinds of volunteer opportunities. They don’t have to go for environmental causes in particular; it’s just good to get them used to the idea that helping others is something they should do.
If you raise your children to consider the environment, it will come more naturally to them. They may rebel against it at times, but if you pay attention to their concerns and needs you can find the balance that will help them appreciate all they can contribute to making the world a better place.