Climate change awareness is at an all-time high, with new news articles appearing regularly. It’s not easy being a parent when unpleasant topics arise, especially when the subject is climate change

For youngsters, a parent, teacher, or caregiver is frequently the first and best source of reliable knowledge. Do your children, on the other hand, truly comprehend the situation? Here’s how to convey this complex subject.

These are also the ones who can assist them in coping with the “Big Feelings” that undoubtedly arise when future climate change-related problems are realized.

Table of Contents

1. Instill a sense of wonder in children (Under 6)

Because more minor children will struggle to grasp topics like greenhouse gases and ocean acidification, begin with a more straightforward message: Living things flourish and thrive when we care for them. To raise young environmentalists, planting seeds or caring for animals is an excellent place to start. 

Seasons, beauty, play, and teaching the fundamental responsibility of caring for life cultivate an appreciation for the natural world, which will aid the kid in grasping climate change.

Former school teacher Ronnie Citron-Fink, the editorial director of Moms Clean Air Force, believes that observing, appreciating, and celebrating the seasons provides an excellent basis for comprehending climate change. 

Observe how leaves fall from trees in autumn and then sprout again on treks in spring. Point out seasonal migrants such as migratory birds or butterflies.

2. Recognize modest environment gestures

primary school students at malaba - educate children about climate change
Primary school children in Malaba, Africa | Photo by Santi Vedri

Instilling a sense of cleanup responsibility is essential in the short and long term. Although “sharing” might be difficult for people of all ages, young children should be encouraged to share the land with other living things.

Praising children who take the initiative is also a good idea.”Thank you for turning off the lights; it benefits the environment,” for example, could suffice.” “Many of us fail to perform this step,” says Professor and clinical psychologist Robin Gurwitch of Duke University Medical Center’s Center for Child and Family Health.

The few phrases you can install in the mind of the child are :

“Because the planet is our home, we must look after it so that it remains a safe place to live.”

“Climate change is a major issue, but many people are working together to address it.”

3. Maintain their confidence in humanity

According to Mary DeMocker, author of The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Raise Empowered Kids, Build a Fossil-Free Future, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep, “for most children under the age of 5 or 6, the world is a good place, with adults taking care of it.” 

Remind children that many adults are concerned about their children’s futures and the environment and protect both. DeMocker adds, “They need to know the adults are in charge, and they’ve got this.”

Similarly, avoid processing your fears when speaking with small children sensitive to our emotions. While it’s crucial to be open about your concerns about climate change, do so out of earshot of your children by speaking with other parents or joining forces with fellow activists in your town.

4. Explain the science (6-12)

Children are already interested in and hearing about climate science at this age. It’s also an excellent time to start labeling your emotions and developing emotional resilience. 

If they’ve heard about climate change, ask them what they’ve heard. As we know from the disinformation spread by climate change deniers in our government, children occasionally encounter unusual thoughts.

Recognize these allegations for what they are, stating that certain people are more concerned with gaining money or retaining power than our world’s health. 

This explanation could be a complex topic to broach, but it will help you recognize and validate your children’s outrage at earlier generations.

Once the fallacies have been debunked, you can use the blanket example to convey the more abstract concept of climate change.

5. Make a point about how we’re attempting

After acknowledging the issues, immediately pivot to the reasonable adjustments we’re making. Children may be alarmed if they are unaware that adults are concerned about climate change and address issues.

Let them know that there are millions of adults working to safeguard children, to find answers to our questions about climate change, as well as the steps we’ll need to take collectively to get to where we need to go. 

Proposes include kid-friendly examples of breakthroughs and solutions, such as Chinese solar farms shaped like pandas and energy-generating playgrounds.

6. Discuss the importance of taking personal action

school kids holding a globe - Educate children about climate change
School kids of Cottage Lane Elementary School holding a globe and addressing climate change| Image by NOAA

Because children in elementary school understand cause and effect, now is an excellent time to discuss what they can do to reduce carbon emissions with your aid. 

Some examples are biking or carpooling to school, replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs, or starting a home composting system. 

However, there is one caveat: children of all ages are aware of adult contradictions. We may confront some difficult questions if we discuss the need for recycling but do not eliminate single-use items from our daily routine.

The simple phrase you can use for a child of this age is :

“Have you heard anything about climate change?” Is that something you and your buddies talk about?”

“Would you be interested in collaborating with me—we can look at possibilities together?”

7. Encourage teens to ask about climate change (12-14)

Teens are motivated by civic obligation and scientific curiosity, and knowledge. You can go on the hunt with them when they’re looking for answers to huge questions.

Start educating kids on how to discover reputable sources for climate science knowledge, as well as how to spot fake news. There is, however, no need to click on every site link.

8. Use children’s personal qualities

Perhaps your middle schooler is interested in polar bears or is concerned about pollution. Encourage children to speak up by explaining how simply spreading awareness may significantly impact them. 

Some children give presentations to other children, others prefer to work on poster campaigns and group art projects, and yet others may choose to perform spoken-word poetry. Invite outgoing children to join you during a rally.

9. Allow your adolescent to teach you about climate change

We can all learn from and listen to our children. Ask questions and reflect on their opinions if your vegetarian adolescent challenges you over burgers: How did you decide to become a vegetarian? 

What is it like to grow up in a meat-eating family? Are you able to come up with some solutions or compromises?

10. Share news stories with your teenagers

kids on wild footprint - educate children about climate change
A little girl on wild footprint; we are not different after all| Photo by Hugues de

The Youth Climate Movement is thriving, and there are numerous inspiring examples of young people stepping up for the future of their generation. 

“Seeing that the government and individuals are paying attention to them is empowering for them,” adds Citron-Fink. “It demonstrates to them that their voices are heard.”

This story from various platforms will motivate youth to turn their fury and concern about climate change into action and concentrate on the areas they can influence.

The simple phrase you can use for a child of this age is :

I understand that this is a large and daunting task, but I am confident there is plenty we can do to meet the challenge and make a difference.”

“I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still learning as much as you are, but I believe it’s critical that we keep talking, and I’m completely open to whatever you’re feeling or thinking.”

Start taking action in your own house to assist your child in helping the environment. Turn off the lights, save water, replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and recycle! 

The possibilities for home conservation are numerous, but every little amount counts and provides an excellent example for children.

(Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Rishu Shakya, a bachelor’s degree graduate in Business Information Management, holds an extraordinary empathy towards mother nature and her ecosystem. She has always been captivated by green Earth and its charm. She regards spreading awareness about clean energy and sustainable development as her passion as well as responsibility. She believes her compassion about the Earth and human relationships will undoubtedly assist our planet to be a better place.