The large majority of Americans support teaching kids about Climate Change. From air and ocean pollution to deforestation and the loss of endangered species, there’s no shortage of gloomy environmental conversation topics, but raising these topics too early can actually backfire.
After all, kids are young, and impressionable. For kids too young to understand and contextualize large, complex and frightening environmental problems, it is important not to leave the impression that these issues are beyond our control.
In a best case scenario, planning ahead is key when having these conversations. A premature or overly pessimistic discussion about how we’re collectively wrecking the natural world can leave kids feeling disillusioned and disempowered. But we shouldn’t lie to them, either. After all, the world we’re leaving them with will have all of the problems that we have created. So we need to do all we can to keep them optimistic — and informed.
Here are five ways to respond to a child’s ecological curiosities without totally bumming them out
Before you break out the Al Gore-styled climate charts, make sure you really understand what your kid is interested in hearing. They may not be seeking factual information. Children need to process newly discovered issues. If their questions are mostly expressions of anxiety, simply encourage them to express those fears. When you do respond, let them know that their anxieties, anger and sadness are all normal reactions.
Spend time outdoors.
Only one in ten kids regularly spend time outdoors. That’s a problem. Before we can expect our kids to understand large-scale environmental concerns, they need to form a connection with nature. Immersing children…