Talking to your child about the realities of climate change can be incredibly difficult as a parent. Eco-anxiety is real and children are not immune to it, so many parents understandably have an urge to protect their children from the reality of what we have done to Earth.
On the other hand, if we are to try to train enlightened climate activists who will fight inaction and take care of the planet they inherit, it is important to be open with them. Finding that balance is intimidating.
Here’s one thing parents can do to help teach kids about climate change without stressing them out: Focus on the little habits they can start now and develop throughout their lives, like doing what they can. to save energy. So here are five easy ways to teach little ones how to reduce their energy footprint.
1. Teach them to turn off lights and screens
One of the easiest – and yes, the most obvious – ways to teach children how to conserve energy is to remind them to turn off the lights when they leave a room and to turn off household appliances (such as TV, computer, iPad, etc.) when not in use.
“Preschoolers can’t think about global warming, but they’re old enough to understand that the lights have to be turned off when they leave the room,” said Amity Hook-Sopko, editor of Green Child Magazine, which has great help on energy conservation. control List.
The same goes for not letting the water run while they brush their teeth, she said. You train them to remember that whatever they turn on must also be turned off.
2. Help the children understand that it is not the end of the world if they are a little cold or hot.
No, you absolutely must not make your child uncomfortable. But you can certainly save energy by keeping your thermostat low in the winter, especially when you’re asleep or not at home, according to the US Department of Energy. It is also unnecessary to run the air conditioner whenever it is hot. (Plus, there’s new evidence that people’s ability to cope with heat is impaired by our constant reliance on air conditioners.)
Of course, your child probably does not control the temperature in your home, especially if they are young. But it’s a good idea to get them used to finding other ways to deal with a slightly hot or cool day.
“HVAC uses the most energy in your home, so encouraging children not to turn the thermostat up or down is a major way to save energy,” Hook-Sopko said. “Get them used to taking a sweater or blanket if they’re cold, and dressing lightly or turning on the ceiling fan if they’re hot.”
3. Start a family shower contest
Showers and baths can waste a significant amount of water and energy, Hook-Sopko said.
One way to cut back is to install WaterSense-labeled showerheads, which meet certain water efficiency requirements, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. He estimates that the average family could save around 2,700 gallons per year by installing them.
But it also helps to get kids used to taking shorter showers – and making sure that this is a universal rule that applies to you as well.
“Throw a family challenge to have everyone cut off two minutes from their showers,” Hook-Sopko said.
4. Ask them to do their homework by a window
If your child has homework, encourage her to do it next to a window with natural light instead of using a lamp, if possible, suggests the Green Child checklist. (Of course, this won’t work in the evenings or during the cooler fall and winter months.)
Again, you teach them that simple everyday choices can make a difference. In addition, natural light has health benefits, including increased exposure to vitamin D.
In general, teaching children to appreciate the world around them by spending time in nature or even just enjoying the view outside their window can be a powerful way to promote environmental stewardship.
“It is far more important to anchor children in the natural world than to teach them that great tragedies are looming on the horizon,” David Sobel, environmental educator and university faculty member, told HuffPost. from Antioch, New Hampshire.
5. Model of environmental activism
Yes, teaching kids to save energy is very much a part of everyday habits, like turning off lights and making sure you use showers, light bulbs, and other energy-efficient devices in the home.
But it’s not just about the individual roles we play. For things to improve, policies must change. So teaching your child what it means to be an environmental activist – whatever that means in your household – is ultimately a way to help reduce energy use on a larger scale.
“Older children are not [ignorant] corruption and consumerism, and they can understand the role that big business and government regulation (or lack thereof) play in the energy crisis, ”Sopko said. “They can also examine how their habits can play a role in the demand for production which can lead to environmental challenges.”
So when they are older, perhaps in their teens or teens, show them that they can do things like contact their state or local authorities and get support for environmental causes in their communities. neighborhoods and their schools. Also show them what you are beautiful do – from the habits you keep at home to the steps you take to become more engaged on these issues yourself.
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