As much as we’re all concerned with ensuring younger generations inherit a planet that isn’t on the brink of collapse, shouldn’t we also be concerned with teaching them to care about the planet? While the choice to adopt renewable energy sources might seem out of our control, the decision to teach young people about the environment is very much within our reach. If you have children in your life, why wouldn’t you spend a little time teaching them about how rainforests are the lungs of the earth? Or how a coral reef grows and gives life to so many marine animals.
When I was growing up, once the morning cartoons were finished there was no choice but to go and play outside, but children are slowly losing the art of playing out. I cared about nature because I got my hands dirty, played in puddles and climbed trees. So, how do we teach children fluent in video games and mobile phones how to appreciate nature?
The simplest way to encourage children to care about the environment is to get outside and experience it. Take a walk, go swimming in a lake, go mountain biking or take a trip to the beach. Visit a zoo to learn about endangered animals, if you must! Anything that gets children out of their digital bubble and gets them thinking about nature will help.
Watch the news
You’d be surprised just how switched on children are, so avoiding watching the news with them just because you are afraid they will see something upsetting might not be the best way forward. Watch the news with your child and answer their questions. If you can’t answer their questions, make it a family activity to find the answers. Just make sure you aren’t leaving any scary unanswered questions.
What about the older kids?
Teens are slowly shedding their slacker sentiments in favour of activist tendencies. Awaken their inner eco-warrior by encouraging older kids to get involved with marches, rallies and fundraisers. Not only is this a great way to meet people and boost their confidence, but they’ll also be learning to speak up about the planet.
How can I help other people’s children?
This is a delicate issue, as a lot of parents don’t like the idea of someone else weighing in on their parenting approach. Obviously, if you foster a child, you might be able to get away with inspiring your foster placement to care a little more about the environment while they are living with you. However, if you are talking about getting someone else’s child on board with going green, you’re going to need to speak to their parents and make sure they are on board with your mission. Even if you are talking about your nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren, you should always clear it with the parents.