First, let’s start with a little disclaimer… As a knackered mum myself, I don’t profess to having all the answers but hope by giving you a little insight into our experience, it may help you in some way or give you some ideas you maybe hadn’t thought of. The kids are the future and the health of our planet depends on them to continue what we’ve started. I have no idea yet if my kids are going to carry these things on into their adult lives, or if it’ll make them the next Greta Thunberg, but hopefully it’ll ingrain in them an understanding and appreciation of our planet/environment/nature that will stay with them forever.
Tip #1 - Children learn more from what they see vs. what they hear.
I’m not sure my 4 year old hears even half of what we actually say to him... especially when it comes to asking him what he’d like for dinner! Both of my kids though do pick up on the things we do without even realising. Their mannerisms and facial expressions are often things I find I do myself. It’s a bit like holding up a mirror to yourself.
The best way I’ve found to teach them about climate change and the impact of our actions is to show them. When we go out for walks I make a point of picking up rubbish and have a brief chat about why I’m doing that- I usually say about little animals getting hurt or if we’re near the sea I’ll talk about sea life getting hurt by it being there. Keep it simple and make sure the explanation is something they can understand/ relate to. The most important bit here though is them seeing me doing the action of picking it up as well as taking all our rubbish home. My son will now point out rubbish if he sees it on the floor.
Model the behaviour we’d like for them to adopt. We’ve made many changes around the home and these changes are the norm for our kids. I get my eldest involved with the composting, now he really just wants to look at rotting food or hunt for worms and bugs but it’s a great way to open questions and discussion around food waste/ natural cycles. I mean it’s pretty amazing for kids to think that what we’re trying to create is a pile of worm poo for the garden!!
We’ve also swapped a lot of plastic bathroom products for their non-plastic alternatives. We haven’t had liquid hand soap for at least a year (it did take them a little while to master using soap bars for hand washing but now it’s just what they know). Recently we managed to find kids’ shampoo bars and body soap bars from Rowdy Kind so they now use these and are pretty good at washing themselves with them too! Hopefully if this is what they know and are used to, they won’t have to make ‘eco swaps’ further down the line when they have their own homes and families. They’ll already be accustomed to using bars.
Tip # 2 - Get outdoors and connect with nature.
I truly believe this helps so much. As a child myself, we spent most of our weekends camping and hiking, I think this definitely helped shape who I am today. When they get the chance to hold a worm and then watch it wiggle away, when they see a sunset and sunrise, when they get a chance to really immerse themselves in nature and the outdoors, it’s my opinion that this is so valuable to their appreciation and sense of wonder of the natural world. It’s that appreciation of the natural world that we all need to keep us motivated to do what we can to protect it.
The best thing about this is that it’s completely free too! You can even do it in your own garden or local park.
Try a scavenger hunt, collect shells & fossils on the beach, lift up rocks and see what’s underneath or just lay on the grass and spot shapes in the clouds. There is so much fun to be had outside!
Tip #3. Read kids books with topics around plastic pollution, climate change and the environment.
There are so many fab kids books out there talking about these topics in a way that is both captivating and age appropriate. We have a few favourites here (listed below) and it’s a great way to introduce topics such as climate change especially if you’re not sure where or how to start with these discussions. Kids absorb so much from the world around them so if they’re introduced to these topics in a positive way through reading inspiring story books, they’ll hopefully feel less daunted by hearing the words ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global warming’ etc.
Some of our favourite reads:
- Eco Joe by Helen Deehan
- Here we are- Notes for living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
- My Green Day by Melanie Walsh
Thanks for reading! I hope this has inspired you to think about the best way for you to raise your own Mini Eco Heroes,
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