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Climate change challenges – Raising environmentally conscious children

Mother and daughter walking

Climate change is one of these topics that can leave us speechless. How can we respond to children’s concerns in an age-appropriate way without creating anxious or despondent children? These days, concerning news about climate change is everywhere and children depend on us to help them deal with this complex and scary topic. This might seem like an insurmountable challenge, but a gentle, supportive approach can have long-lasting positive effects on our children and the environment.

“All living things grow and thrive when we care for them.” This straight-forward message is the prerequisite for all eco efforts and there are many things we can do to support children’s love and care for all life around them.

1. Encourage taking responsibility.

Holding yourself and others accountable for your actions might be one of the most important things we can teach our children. There is no better way to show what this looks like than leading by example.

Practical examples:

  • Set sustainability goals for yourself and share them with the children: “I will use reusable bags when going to the shops.”
  • Talk to the children about your own struggles to do the right thing and how you motivate yourself to stick to your goals: “Sometimes, when I’m really tired, I don’t want to walk to work but it makes me happy to see the birds and the beautiful flowers on the way.”
  • Together with the children, establish eco-friendly habits and consistently follow the new rules: “I will always shut the doors when the air conditioner is on.”

2. Empower small changes.

Instilling the message that “Everyone can make a difference” will empower children to implement small changes for a more sustainable world.

Practical examples:

  • Talk to the children about different ways to save energy: How can we make sure we turn the lights off when we go outside to play in the yard?
  • Discuss mindful use of resources: How can we best look after our toys? Can we get them fixed when they are broken? How many toys do we need in the first place?
  • Speak about cleaning up after ourselves: How can we make sure there is no rubbish left outside before we go home for the day? Can we build a compost in our yard? Are we recycling our rubbish?

3. Recognise the children’s efforts.

Show children that their efforts are noticed because positive reinforcement can be a highly effective tool for encouraging positive behaviour.

Practical examples:

  • It could be as simple as saying, “Thank you for turning off the lights. That’s helping the planet.”
  • Talk to the children about recognising other children’s contribution: What could they say when they see another child cleaning up rubbish or turning off the tap?
  • Encourage children to share eco-friendly measures at home: Can a child convince their parents to walk to the centre twice a week instead of driving?

Our children should be equipped with a positive, can-do mindset to tackle the climate challenges ahead. However, let’s not forget that is it not our children’s responsibility to repair the damage caused by previous generations. Our children need to know that we, the adults, need to do our utmost to protect our planet.

Sparking more STEM suggestions:

Use STEM to explore the environment with children in your service, such as:

💥 Invite children to discuss their favourite flowers or animals in nature and why they love them.
💥 Invite children to find leaves in the service yard and compare their shapes, colours, and sizes.
💥 Invite children to observe the bugs and insects around your service’s outdoor area and their different habits. For instance, do some bugs and insects only come out when it’s sunny?

Developing your STEM skills to start climate conversations with children using our STEM Hour Q&A recordings:

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