Anxiety comes in all forms and it doesn’t discriminate as to whom it affects. Children are not immune to anxiety and one of the leading causes of anxiety for kids today (under 18) is the environment. This post isn’t going to get into a debate on climate change. I will say two things; first the world is warmer now that’s not debatable. Second, there are more ways to obtain information now than ever before which makes things seem worse than they are.
All that out of the way it doesn’t negate the fact that children have environmental anxiety. Are they being taught that humans are polluting the world? Is it some vast liberal conspiracy to indoctrinate these kids? I don’t know but what I will say is their awareness of environmental issues is impressive. “Not in my life time” is something I might be able to say, my neighbors kid Kate who is 11? What does the world looks like in 40 years, 2061?
How do you help them now though? Isn’t that a parents most important charter? To empower their kids to be productive and thriving adults? (rhetorical of course).
- Start a recycling cycle: Every family accumulates trash. Types of trash vary depending on where you live but its most likely that you have accumulated plastic. Plastic can be rinsed and recycled. Make it a weekly or bi weekly task where you and your children clean the plastic and bring it to a recycle center.
- Read articles about climate change together: Direct engagement here, read the climate change stories with your child. Don’t read the stories to the child, read them WITH the child. This enables the child to engage YOU directly on the issue, discuss it, tell you what they think. You in turn get to tell them your point of view as well. You don’t have to agree with everything written but you are doing it together and that’s the critical point.
- Buy local products: Bring your child with you and purchase local products from small businesses and individuals in your area. Going to a super store near you means you are consuming products that were probably shipped via a container, then trucked in. This type of product is one of the dirties products in the world. Not the item itself but how it got to the store. Inform your child of this, tell them why you are buying local and or why they can’t have “Item X” from big store retailer, tie it into the environment.
Small incremental changes where you are engaging your child directly gives them a stake or as we say in my part of the world “skin in the game” to the environment. They crave your guidance; the world is full of information now they are getting data from multiple inputs every minute of every day. The tips above give them avenues to affect positive outcomes, learn about issues and most importantly interact with you and hone in on your family’s values when it comes to environmental issues.
Remember when they are middle age adults somewhere in the 2050’s the world might be a very different place. It could be environmentally worse or better depending on the values we instill now. Even if you don’t think climate change is a major issue the tips above are all positives. Your child will appreciate it.
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