Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

When it comes down to it To talk to our kids about climate change, research shows that there is a big gap between what parents think should happen – and what is actually happening. A Vote from NPR in 2019 Shows that about 85 percent of parents, across the political spectrum, think that children should learn about climate change. But only half of these parents say they have talked about it with their own children.

The thing is, your child has probably already heard about climate change. Leslie Davenport, a therapist and author of a workbook to help children with the process of climate change, called All the feelings under the sun: How to deal with climate change, Said that while researching her book she spoke to many children who know more about climate change than their parents. “I was amazed at how knowledgeable many children were about the science of climate change, even as young as 8 or 9 years old.” As the climate crisis escalates urgently and continues to make headlines, it will only continue to flow into children’s consciousness. Cited an article about the COP26 Summit “I’m worried because if the earth gets too hot, all the animals will start to die and (…) people won’t live,” said an 8-year-old from Glasgow.

According to Davenport, the problem is that the information did not come from trusted sources like teachers or parents. Instead, the kids he talked to were getting partial information – listening to something on the radio or in a conversation – that they would then try to do research on the Internet. “As a result, the level of emotional distress is much higher,” Davenport explains, describing everything from anger and frustration to panic, depression and even headaches, abdominal pain, movement and acting. “While these are normal emotional responses to learning about a world in crisis, they are not equipped to process feelings.”

Before you engage in a conversation with your child, it is important to address your own fears and lack of knowledge about the climate crisis. Mary Dimker, an environmental activist and author Parental Guidelines for Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep, Indicating that climate change is not only a really frightening concept for children, it is also frightening for adults, which is why these important conversations are not happening. “Adults often get really close around climate issues,” he says. It can allay your child’s concerns or try to alleviate them by reducing the severity and urgency of climate change, or it can make your child more fearful by stealing shows. Davenport noted that any meaningful discussion of climate change needs to be a balance of science and emotion. “It can’t just be information and information. When we present only science, we give up a large part of the meaning of being human – our lives are beliefs, values ​​and behaviors. “

Now, before you drop text / Whatsapp / Alexa drop-in / email / DM for your child to come down for a talk, here are some age-appropriate ideas to help you prepare.

Under 6 years old

Children under the age of 6 are still too young to understand climate change directly, so Davenport advises building a love of nature by teaching them the basic responsibilities of season, plant cycle, beauty, play and caring for life. This sets the stage for children to grow up into good environmental stewards. Dimkar, whose children have now grown up, says he had no language about climate change when his children were younger, so he tried to lead by example. “We immersed them in nature, we immersed them in the story of nature, we composted them and we cared a lot for the natural world. So they have grown up immersed in the principles of care and the life of joy and wonder in the natural world and our sense of responsibility for it. ” DeMocker also tried to get his children to protest so that they were familiar with the idea of ​​political involvement.

What is most important, DeMocker emphasizes, is reassuring. “Whenever they come up with a question, or you think it’s important because you’re talking [the climate crisis] In your family or in front of them, do something that is strongly reassuring, such as, ‘Oh, yes, we have a problem. It’s heating up the planet, and it’s causing problems, and we’re on top of it. “

Sample phrases:

  • “The planet is our home, so we have to take care of it so that it is a safe place to live.”
  • “Climate change is a big problem, but a lot of people are working together to solve it.”
  • “Humans pollute what goes into the air and can act like a blanket and that blanket heats the planet and it causes problems.”

Ages 7 – 12

At this age, Davenport says children are already interested and interested in hearing about climate science. “Approximately 8 starts when the broader perspective on climate change and its effects begin to be understood, and feelings begin to emerge,” he says. So before you start talking, ask what your kids already know.

It’s also a time to start naming feelings and practicing emotional resilience. Davenport noted that while it’s normal to feel great emotion when you learn about being in a world crisis, kids aren’t equipped to process those feelings. “They’ve been thrown into a feeling of overwhelm, which can ignore every aspect of life,” he explains. Davenport’s book suggests learning to “toggle” or go back and forth between tools for disturbing climate news and self-regulated emotional responses. “These are essential life skills needed to successfully navigate a world with a clear-minded and empathetic approach, especially when the challenges posed by climate change increase.”

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