Can you cut 1 Tonne of carbon pollution out of your life?Take the challenge
Climate change is scary enough as an adult. So just imagine for a second that you're a kid, finding out about climate change for the first time. You would be worried, confused and probably angry at your parents for leaving you with a mess like this. It's no wonder many parents sometimes aren't sure about the right way to broach the subject with their children.
But one of the best ways we can make sure the future is a good one is by informing our children to prepare them for the world they will inherit, and to empower them to be the change makers of the future.
So how do we do it without absolutely terrifying them? Here are a few ways to get you started.
A stream of facts out of nowhere is going to either not have an impact at all or really freak them out. Start the conversation in your home by taking action in the home and explaining the reasons behind it. For example, when you're taking out the compost, bring your child with you and explain what happens to the food, and why it's better off in your garden than in landfill.
Or if you don't have compost, start one! Make sure your child is involved in the project and use that activity to talk about why it's important to keep food waste out of landfill. You can use the same tactic with plastic free lunches, turning off lights at the power point, avoiding plastic bags or riding a bike to school.
This approach makes it easy to start the conversation about climate change while emphasising that your kids have the power to take action and change it! And don't stop in the home. Encourage them to think big, come up with their own ideas and raise their voice amongst friends, at school and in the community.
It's incredible how creative and ambitious kids are when they become passionate about something.
Connect with nature
Being immersed in nature, if it's for an hour or a whole week, reinforces the sense that humans are part of nature not separate to it. Fostering this connection between your children and nature is a way to move them to want to protect it. It can be especially difficult for kids growing up in the city to make the connection between humans and nature.
Go for bush walks, go camping in the forest or by a river, walk or swim at the beach. These things can be an hour of your weekend, a whole weekend or even an entire holiday. Even gardening in your own backyard can foster a fascination and love for the natural world. On top of gaining a love for nature, kids will begin to understand that what we do as humans has a direct impact on the earth.
Talk about animals
Children's love of animals is the perfect segue into climate change. Whether it's turtles or bugs, lions or koalas, whales or polar bears, if your child loves an animal they will likely want to know how to protect it. Talk to your child about how climate change affects their favourite animals and again, make sure they know that there is always something they can do to help!
You can then extend the conversation from animals to talk about how climate change affects and is caused by humans.
Get involved in the community
No matter how old you are, fighting climate change alone isn't a fun time. It's important to show your kids that they aren't alone and that there is always support available if they need it. Taking your child along to an environmental march, joining a clean up crew or volunteering at a local garden will help them feel supported, and show them the importance of collective action.
Make it a life long lesson
The fight to make our planet clean and safe is going to be a long one. There will always be challenges and hurdles. Be there to answer questions and support and encourage your child when they encounter them. Teach them ways to look after themselves as well as the planet so they can avoid exhaustion.
Don't make climate action a novelty in your house, make it the norm. Make it a habit that they will carry for the rest of their life. Encourage them to never stop learning and to always love the planet they live on because that's how we will build a better world for them to live in.
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