Climate change is a real and impactful process that may begin to drastically change our way of life in the next century. The best way to counteract climate change is by beginning to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle – however, if the message is not passed on and spread, it is difficult for any victory to be lasting. It is really important to teach your children about climate change and ways to live a more environmentally-friendly and environmentally smart life. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Open up an imaginative dialogue with your children
The first thing you need to do is teach your kids about the potential effects of people continuing to live their current lifestyles – including your own family. Appeal to their imaginations and intelligence with well-reasoned, concrete examples.
One of the best ways to get children to understand your message is to draw clear connections between cause and effect. The simple act of opening up a dialogue with your children will help them become more environmentally-friendly now and later in life, because your willing entry into the topic will make it an acceptable point of discussion for your children.
Start off by talking to your children about the amount of energy that is wasted every day from actions like leaving the lights on when you leave the house or leaving an electronic device plugged into an outlet at all times. (If you are discussing this with older children who value their allowances or are old enough to start their first job, you may also want to mention how much money this can cost you – and them – in energy bills each month.)
Incandescent bulbs are particularly wasteful; because of the construction of the bulb and the amount of amount of energy required to heat it properly to produce light, incandescent bulbs only use 5 percent of the energy they spend. You can flip this statistic around to make kids pay particular attention: this would be just like if they only scored a 5 out of 100 on a test or ate a single topping off of a pizza rather than a whole slice.
Help your children feel personally invested
Many children want to be able to make an impact. Make sure you tell them that even the smallest action, like turning off the lights when you leave the room or turning off the water in the sink while you brush your teeth, can make a big difference. The more personally connected they feel to the cause, the more likely they will want to be able to help. Check out this interesting water conservation guide on how to save water in an easy way.
You should also make a point to lead by example. Talk to your children (or, if they are already interested in the topic, brainstorm with them) about different ways you can begin to use less energy at home. One simple thing you can start with is swapping out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs, which use up to 85 percent less energy overall and last much longer than incandescent versions.
Let your children feel the difference between an incandescent bulb and an LED (make sure to supervise them – the glass, if broken, is sharp), and even install the new bulbs themselves. Low-flow toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and showers are also great ways to save water and treat the planet better. Instead of hiring someone to install them, make it a do-it-yourself project, and have your children stand by to help out.
Remember, if a child is directly involved in something, they will care about it much more, both now and in the future. The best way to protect our environment is to practice environment protection now and pass those behaviors onto our kids for the long-term benefit of the planet.