It was a routine weekday afternoon, and I was waiting for my girl to come back from school. This day was a little different from other days. She was anxious and sad after coming back from school.
When I asked her about this low mood, she said, “Mom, do you know at least 14 million plastics end up in the ocean every year? Marine species mistake this plastic debris for a portion of food and ingest it, which causes severe injuries and death. Studies show that millions of sea animals die annually because of plastic pollution and this percent increase to 99% by the year 2050.”
I am feeling so sad and anxious after learning these facts about plastic pollution and its impact on sea life.
What will happen to seabirds and sea animals if plastic pollution will increase at this rate?
Which species are most affected by plastic pollution?
Can we do something to stop plastic pollution and save the sea animals?
Her questions have put me in a state of dilemma. I felt a wide spectrum of emotions (confusion, sadness) and also felt a sense of hesitation while answering her questions.
As a caring parent, I had understood her anxiety related to the ocean crisis very well. But somehow, I was not in the state of mind to answer her questions with ease and positivity.
I am sure I am not the only parent who went through this tough situation.
There are many parents out there who face a similar situation and feel confused regarding how to answer their kid’s environment-related questions and help them reduce their anxiety related to ocean crisis and other environmental issues.
When we had this discussion at our place, I calmed my mind and did some research from my side. Of course, the facts and data regarding environmental issues are scary and depressing. But this is not the end of hope.
As caring parents and responsible citizens, we can put our contribution not only to help our kids but for saving the planet as well.
As a first step, you need to create your “WHY” factor to move a step ahead in this journey.
Why is it important to raise eco-conscious kids?
Kids are future builders of any nation. They will take action and maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle to save the planet. As caring parents, we must educate our kids and increase their awareness about climate change and other environmental issues. Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle not only benefit us, it also helps in consuming energy and resources for future generation as well.
How to talk to children about climate change and ease their fears about environmental issues?
Before dive-in deeper into a deal with the complexity of environmental issues, it is best to follow an organized step-by-step approach to talking with kids about environmental issues.
Overcome your own feelings and negative emotions
As a grown-up, we face various challenges in our day-to-day life. Feeling stressed or anxious regarding climate change or other environmental issues is a part of normal human emotions, and that is completely ok. Before starting any conversation with your kids, it is important to tackle our own emotions positively. You should overcome your overwhelming feelings or other negative emotions before explaining anything to kids.
Accept the reality and break the silence
We lived in an incredibly busy world. And many times, as a routine reaction, we tend to avoid things that create stress in our already chaotic life. When it comes to dealing with complex topics (like sex, drugs and even climate change), we try to follow a “Let-go” attitude and get busy with our routine life. This ignoring attitude may give a sense of relaxation for a moment, but in the long term, it will not solve the actual problems.
So, it is important to accept the reality and break the silence on complex topics like climate change. We need to build an environment where kids feel free to ask their questions, and confusion freely without feeling a sense of apprehension.
This is the next important step before initiating a conversation with your kids. Nowadays, there is plenty of information are available all across the web and on other sources that could make us feel overwhelmed and confusing. Sharing incomplete or wrong information with your kids will make them confused and did not solve the actual purpose of making them aware and educated. To avoid this situation, you must educate yourself first. Search the facts and information from trustworthy sources. You should feel confident enough to answer your kid’s questions and help them to reduce their anxiety related to their future environment.
Keep things simplified
Although “Climate change” is a complex topic which may involve many scientific phenomena and events. However, it is not a great idea to explain these things to kids in a complicated manner. Try to adopt a simplified approach and explain things with practical examples. Kids learn fast when they see or observe things practically. You can take the help of visuals (like videos, graphics or images) to make this process more fun and enjoyable.
Focus on hope and positivity rather than being anxious and scared
Kids are good at absorbing your emotions. They can sense your anxiety and negative emotions instantly. It is important to be positive while making conversation with kids. Keep your tone gentle and polite. Focus on hope and positivity rather than being anxious or scared. Your attitude is one of the strongest factors that can make a vast difference in executing an effective conversation.
Listen and understand your child’s point of view too
Nowadays kids are so smart and they may already have impressive information on various topics including climate change, sustainability and eco-friendly living. Try to keep your conversation open-ended and understand your child’s point of view too, before sharing overwhelming information from your side.
Make an action plan
Everything in life works well when we execute it with a proper plan and an organizational strategy. The same principle applies to this topic as well. It is always a great idea to make an action plan to raise environmental awareness in your kids. Gather your resources and information and make an action plan as per the age of your child. You as a family can perform many acts of kindness that will help in raising environmental awareness and can make this earth a better place to live.
Be a role model
Last but not the least, be a role model for your kids. Kids learn more from what you do rather than what you teach. Try to change your routine habits and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle routine like buying more natural and organic products, using an alternate mode of transportation etc. Kids will get inspiration from these changes and they will also follow in your footsteps.
So, these are some basic steps to teach climate change to kids. In next post, I will share a set of amazing activities which help in raising environmental awareness in kids. Stay tuned!