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climate change, climate change definition, climate change facts, climate change uk, climate change girl, climate change for kids, climate change facts for kids, climate change images, climate change impacts

PARENTING

Speaking to Children About Climate Change

With the rise in climate-related disasters in recent years, the increasing discussion of the climate crisis in nature documentaries, and an influx of prominent climate activists pushing for action and education, many children are growing up with an awareness of climate change.

The topic can seem overwhelming and scary for children resulting in anxiety and stress, making it imperative to help little minds understand the situation with actionable steps and in an age-appropriate manner. Albeit an important issue, it does not need to be all doom and gloom! There are ways to approach the subject that inspire hopefulness, encouraging children to connect with the environment.

18 Jan 2021

What is climate change?

Striking balance between the sugar-coating and scaring is no mean feat. The best way to explain it is matter-of-factly, perhaps using what you learned when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic with your children. The idea is to provide your children with the facts to inform their opinions, rather than scare them into taking action. For example, you might tell them that fuel for cars and planes comes from the ground, and the gases they produce harm the planet. You can explain that this is why some parts of the world have storms and fires, and although there is work to be done, world leaders are starting to take action to reverse the effects. There are many resources online that can help, notably, NASA’s Climate Kids websites and the National Geographic Kids website, which is packed full of useful information, such as this child-friendly climate change explanation. Friendly reminder: you should always vet any information before sharing it with your children to ensure it is age-appropriate.

What can we do as a family?

Teach your children about recycling and reducing plastic waste - and make it fun! 

As a family, you could brainstorm ways to reuse plastic, for example, using yoghurt pots to grow cress or other seedlings. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to cut down on unnecessary packaging. However, if you do not have the space to do so, visiting a local farmers market or greengrocer can be quite an exciting outing - much more fun than the supermarket! If your children are old enough, you could try cycling to school or town instead of driving - the main goal here is to encourage children to see the fun in sustainable actions and get them excited about it!

climate change, climate change definition, climate change facts, climate change uk, climate change girl, climate change for kids, climate change facts for kids, climate change images, climate change impacts

How can we connect with nature?

Connecting with nature is a great way to encourage children to love and care for the environment. You could play Wildlife Bingo, where you try to spot as many different types of local wildlife as you can, or why not take part in RSPB Bird Watch coming up later this month?

You can play these games anywhere, from the lush countryside to the urban landscape, nature is all around us. If children can identify the birds they can see, they are much more likely to care about them having space to live.

How can we manage climate-anxiety?

Of course, no matter how carefully you might word it, children are likely to experience a level of anxiety or fear. You cannot control what others post on social media, for example, so there is a possibility they may see scary posts at some point. In this case, it is crucial to be as emotionally supportive as possible, allowing them to express their fears. The goal is to help them manage their emotions and try to bring them back to feelings of hope. Here you can remind them about the many scientists around the world who are working hard and making breakthroughs all the time, and that they should not feel helpless as there are things you can do as a family to reduce your impact.

How can we encourage hopefulness?

With these inevitable anxieties, you might be wondering how you can encourage children to hold on to hope. The key message here is that it is not a burden for their generation to bear alone and that we are in this together to form the future of the planet. Of course, it is great to remind them how you can work together to reduce your collective impact, but it can also be insightful to listen to their ideas and encourage their creativity. As much as we think we are educating them about climate change, there might be some ways that they can teach and inspire us! Keep them excited about the prospect of positive and meaningful action, but remember that it is ok, and necessary, to take breaks from talking and thinking about it.

More on helping the planet

If you'd like to find out more information about how to be sustainable, read more of our features below:

What is Sustainability?
How to shop sustainably for kids | @gabriella_agnes_
Tips on Sustainable Parenting with @mamalinauk

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