How To Support Your Child's Concerns About Climate
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ABOUT THIS TRAINING
This Training is useful for families with young children, encouraging engagement in upcoming actions and how to talk with their kids (and other parents) about the crisis. The provided information was sourced by XR Scientists and Parents for Future UK and is meant for both parents and young activists. Among other things you'll learn to:
- answer kids' concerns on climate
- talk in an age-appropriate way to children of various ages when they ask questions on climate
- nurture resilience in children through nature and climate advocacy
- positively link the climate crisis to taking action
This training is a 5 minute read.
UNDERSTANDING AND RELAYING THE SCIENCE
In order to answer kids' questions on climate change, it is highly recommended to first read up on the science. NooWorld has training resources to help you to understand the issues in the larger context.
Depending on the child's age, it's important to relay climate crisis information in an age-appropriate manner. Telling small children how bad the situation is doesn't make sense. But giving them a sense of the problems we face is important, and necessary. So what can you tell your children?
TALKING TO CHILDREN
Every child is different, and the way you talk to them may be different. When they ask questions, respond to what they want to know at that time; you don’t need to give a full detailed answer. Depending on the country you live in, some schools might cover climate change as part of the curriculum. However, sadly this is not the case in all parts of the world. NooWorld is working together with teachers in the US and UK to link resources that can be used to introduce kids and teenagers of various ages to issues of global warming.
In addition to the resources that are linked, the provided information is based on the work of:
Jo McAndrews - talks about the brain development of children and how we can supporting children in the face of climate change
Joanna Macy - ‘the work that reconnects’
Steve Biddulph - ‘must have agency’ for good mental health. Activism has many mental health boosters, such as joining with others, doing something you care about, having control over your situation
Caroline Hickman - studying the rise of eco-anxiety
0 - 3 years: “I am safe”, “I matter”
To help children feel safe, that they matter, create a link to well-being and nature. The talk “Talking to kids about climate” by Jo McAndrews gives some useful information on this.
4 - 7 years: Build love & connection to nature
Don’t talk about scary things that they have no control over. They can’t do anything about it, they have different ways of understanding information, and they still need safety and nurturing. Build love and connection to nature. Outdoor play and generally free/unstructured time in nature is a great idea. Praise children when you notice them doing something good for the environment.
Here's a good resource for explaining climate change:
Notice the use of visuals in this talk. Using a lot of visual input in combination to know effects such as wrapping yourself in a warm blanket is a great tool for relaying information to young children.
8 - 14 years: “The adults have got this”
8 - 14-year-olds need to feel that the adults have got this. Ask them if they’ll join you in your activism or your campaigning to change things. They should campaign about what is important to them, whether it’s for a nearby park, polar bears or whales, etc.
A good resource for explaining climate change to ages 7-11:
Some good materials for helping students connect and understand the importance of protecting the environment:
14+ years: Their Voices Matter
It is essential to help teenagers with critical thinking. They need to feel like their voices matter and so support them if they want to make their voice heard and be involved in trying to change the world. Feeling that they have power over their surroundings is a big part of this. This is one of many reasons school strikes are so important.
As a parent, it is important to stay informed about what the plan is for the action and to have a safety strategy. Support your child over and above the system and school. People in charge don’t know what they’re doing and aren’t protecting your child’s future, so don’t encourage blind obedience. Encourage intelligent and autonomous thinking.
For young activists, good planning for a school strike will enable younger participants to join. A big part of planning your strikes is knowing that getting parent support goes a long way.
What can we do as individuals?
- Informing and encouraging each other to act together
- Working for a cultural shift of ‘normal’
- Making personal changes and encouraging others to do the same
What can we do as parents?
Join with parents to pressure schools to
- teach the truth
- introduce vegan options for everyday meals
- move to zero waste
- generate own energy by installing solar panels
- have lessons and excursions that support links to nature
If you are interested in talking at your school about the climate crisis and the urgent need for action, Extinction Rebellion has created a talk called "Heading for Extinction". There is also a talk specifically made for 14-18-year-olds that is ideal for motivating teenagers to take action!
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