Talking with Children
Climate Anxiety – distress about climate change and its impacts on the landscape, lifestyles, and even human existence
Eco-Anxiety – worry about what may happen to our environment in the future; a chronic fear of environmental doom
Talking to your students/your children about environmental changes and our changing climates is important. Feeling heard, and knowing that you are not alone, is oh so valuable.
1. Ask. “What have you heard about climate change?” Kids nowadays are hearing about it in the news, at school, in books, from family and friends.
2. Listen. “How are you feeling about this?” Are they feeling afraid, angry, powerless? Help them identify their feelings and why they feel that way.
3. Acknowledge. Let them know you understand their concerns. Changing climates around the world are a real concern, and they’ve already begun impacting many people.
4. Unpack the facts. Clear up any misunderstandings the children have. Research together. Using the articles and videos on Kids Against Climate Change – Start Learning page is a good place to start.
5. Show that adults are taking action. Drawdown is a great site that highlights many effective ways adults are working to draw down carbon dioxide levels from the atmosphere. Sign up for Happy Eco News and receive a weekly newsletter highlighting actions people are taking to help the environment. LOOK for ways people are taking climate action in your own area: recycling bins, solar panels, tree planting, re-usable bags, etc. People are becoming more aware of the need to live sustainably and reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s not just the consumer’s responsibility. It’s also the responsibility of manufacturers, utility companies, governments, philanthropists, and organizations such as the United Nations. Everyone needs to take steps to slow down climate change. But these groups won’t do it without the pressure of everyday people like us, because change isn’t always easy. So acknowledge that we all have an important part to play – encouraging everyone we know to keep talking about climate change, taking climate action ourselves, and pressuring these groups to take their share of responsibility so they will take action as well.
6. Emphasize that kids are taking action too. Begin here on Kids Against Climate Change – What Can Kids Do? Discuss the great ideas kids have. “Does that give YOU ideas? What’s one climate action could you begin today? Could we add an additional action each week?”
7. Brainstorm climate action ideas. Making a list to check off, of easier to more difficult climate actions, could provide a satisfying way to provide tangible evidence that you are moving forward together. Climate action is reducing your own carbon footprint – reducing waste, recycling goods, using less gas and electricity. In other words, it’s living a more sustainable lifestyle, using less and creating less pollution. Discuss the concept of leading by example.
8. Ramp it up for meaningful change. Discuss ways to spread the word about climate change to others: family, friends, school events, local government officials, restaurant managers and shop managers. Begin TODAY. It’s not too soon.
😏 The best way to deal with climate anxiety is to move forward…together – taking steps to reduce the cause of climate change (air pollution), and to get others to join with you (multiplying your impact). Influencing many, maybe with a school assembly, or a single person with power, like a government official, can help reduce anxiety.
🙂 The good news is, since people are the problem, people are also the solution. So start moving forward with climate action, and keep talking about it!
😀 You can increase your impact by sharing a news item/photo/video about your climate action with me so I can put it on Kids Against Climate Change to help influence other teachers and parents, and the children they love.
Moving forward together,