How to make children aware of environment issues

Global warming and climate change need our attention. How do we make our children more aware of the environmental issues and the impact that they have on us? How do we teach children to adopt green-living? How do we make them save the planet?

I have always believed that it is parents who instil values in their child. The same is true, especially in a society like ours, where outside influences are aplenty. The school and teachers can only do so much; parents have a greater responsibility after all the child is theirs.

Their immediate environment most influences children and that puts parents on top of the list. A child observes his parents in action, but parents believe that they aren't 'teaching' their child anything wrong, forgetting that they provide live tutorials on bad behaviour.

Every cuss word, every door slammed, every traffic signal jumped, every plastic bag that's thrown into the wind, every bit of litter, every action of yours teaches something to your child. It must be right if the parent is doing it, is what the child learns. The same goes for the environment, when parents care for it and do the right things, they pass on the healthy practices to their child.

We are experiencing global warming. We are in the midst of climate change. It is a matter of grave concern; we can't just leave things to what they are and hold others responsible. We need to step in and make a difference. We need to teach our children about the environment and how our actions impact it. We need to make powerful statements that impress upon the young minds, the need to do the right things.

Inspire your children

Talk about the environment and climate change and the impact that it has had on the world. There is so much information available on the net. You need to search for age-appropriate content and share it with your child. We hear of storms, torrential rains and floods. There is news of drought and water shortage. Satellite images of the depleting Himalayan ice cover. News about ice melting in the poles. The list is endless, and it is frightening.

As parents make it your job to sensitise your child about these issues. If you don't do it, the generations down the line will struggle for survival. The idea is not to scare but to inspire. Introduce your child to the realities and the power he possesses to change them. The lessons should be about making changes and making a difference. That little life that you brought into the world must be made to realise that he is powerful enough to stall the climate change.

Small initiatives, as a family, can make a huge difference. Recognise your role in the chain and play your part well. The efforts you make can change the way your child views the environment and the world. Be careless about your attitude, and you pass on the wrong message, do the right things, and you set an example for your child.

Ask appropriate questions

While your actions indicate a path for your child to follow, discussions make them think and reason. Take every opportunity to initiate a discussion. Share your point of view and encourage your child to add to it.

What should we do to protect the environment? What can we do for the street animals and birds? What can we do about the waste we generate? Can we stop the use of non-biodegradable items? How do we make our planet greener? Is there a way to put an end to wastage of water?

When you pose a question and begin a discussion, you also push your child to act. Debate on global warming makes the child conscious about its effects. He will make changes in his attitude to ensure that he does his bit.

A question can prompt generosity

What can we do to help the needy? My daughter is an adult, and her acts of kindness touch me. She always carries a few healthy snack bars in her bag and gives them to the homeless. She volunteers for a non-profit organisation that ensures that homeless people don't spend nights on the streets of London, in the peak of winter. She donates to organisations where she cannot help with her time. She has adopted an abandoned dog and pays for his upkeep.

The foundation for this was laid by a simple question many moons ago – what could she do to help others? Sow those seeds in your child's mind early in his life. You can never go wrong with teaching your child the correct values.

Discussions on climate change

Climate change is for real; it is happening right now. Your child and his children will be the most affected by it. So, why not centre a conversation around the subject?

An overwhelming amount of data, research and images are available that point to the fact that climate change is occurring at a terrifying pace. We choose to ignore all of it. We cannot stop the glaciers from melting, sitting in our drawing rooms, but we can change the way we live, which can slowly turn things around.

Think about it; a small discourse while having dinner can leave a lasting impression on your child. He'll begin doing things, in his humble way. He'll also influence others to do the same. It sets off a domino effect.

Contradictory theories about global warming

There are zillions of arguments and theories about global warming; some purport that its part of the earth's cycle. Warming and cooling have occurred in the past, and it is a natural phenomenon. To this, I say that the industrial revolution has hastened the speed with which the changes occur – it has altered the course of nature.

We are responsible for this catastrophe looming large over our heads. The colossal scale of deforestation and burning of fossil fuels are having devastating effects on our environment. Should we not wake up from our slumber? Carbon dioxide and other harmful gases over the earth's atmosphere are rapidly increasing. They are creating a greenhouse effect that is raising temperatures and playing havoc with the weather. This is an issue that should be bothering us; we are heading towards a calamity that no world leader would be able to stop, once it picks up pace. The time to stop it is now. We are already late, but let's begin somewhere.

Start with your child, teach him to be a responsible citizen of the Earth. This is the right time to teach him to walk or cycle instead of wanting to be driven. Stress on the significance of public transport as it reduces the toxic emissions that your vehicle would otherwise add to the environment. The aim should be to motivate and empower your child.

Lessons on green-living

Green living has many dimensions to it, make your child aware of these things. Teach him to recycle and reduce waste. Enrol him in green projects, where they can learn the benefits of green-living and planting trees. Talk to them about composting and zero waste.

Encourage them to say 'no to plastic'. Take your child for nature walks. Speak to them about how their toys, clothes, shoes, etc., are manufactured and how these industries pollute the environment. Encourage them to use the school bags for 2- 3 years, instead of buying a new one each school year.

On your part, choose local produce, and shop at outlets that don't encourage plastic. If you have space, grow vegetables and fruits. You can even grow them in containers. Compost the biodegradable waste that you generate. These small measures will save you money, and also show your child that you walk the talk.

Lead by example

Children learn best when they watch their parents do things. So, suit your actions to your words and guide your child. Do things that highlight your positive stand in support of the environment. Conserve water, reuse water, switch off lights, plant saplings and nurture them. Walk instead of taking your vehicle everywhere. Carry a cloth bag when you go shopping. Avoid excess use of the air conditioner, instead, bring indoor plants to cool the rooms.

These are small changes that you can make and teach your child. Inspire with an actionable plan and take a step forward towards protecting the environment. Let your child believe that he can save the planet.

Have you adopted green living? Share your experience here; I'd love you to inspire me with what you do.

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Author: Sheo Shankar Jha16 Jul 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

The article is informative and relevant since we are observing certain unpredictable climatic changes from region to region. Some areas are immersed in water whereas some are still waiting for the monsoon shower.

The kids may not show any interest in the environmental change but with the persuasion of parents, they would know a lot more regarding deforestation, greenery, the elevation of temperature and so on. They need to be taken into confidence so that they realise the real threats cropping up in the near future. Our aim is not to frighten them but the children should be adequately trained to tackle such grim situations.

Plastics or the plastic bottles littered all around would take years (maybe 800 - 1000 years) for their full decomposition and hence an appropriate counselling is required to train them how a cleaner environment can be achieved at best.

The author has pointed out several valuable points and going through this article would add meaningful inputs towards cleaner environment.

Author: Umesh18 Jul 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

Environment awareness is a very important thing not only for the adults but for the children also. Children are the future of our country and if they are aware of the environmental problems and can think of some ways to improve the condition in due course of time then it will be a great thing for the society. Children are generally more interested in play and entertainment and do not understand the intricacies of the threat posed by the degradation of the environment. The best course of action in such cases is that we have to devise a game, workshop or outings for the children in such a way that they automatically learn about our environment so that when they grow up they will be very sensitive to it. Whatever we teach these children will remain in their mind for a long time. The parents have to play an important role in that and show their environmental concern in their actions and not only in the talks.

Taking children for an outing in natural habitats and answering their curiosities about nature and green life around us will definitely inculcate a sense of attachment in them for nature. Then slowly we can imbibe in them the methods and techniques of environment-friendly actions and other ways of preserving the green Earth for good.

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