With all this talk about being eco-friendly and switching to a sustainable lifestyle, now is the time for us to take responsibility for our planet. As our children and the generations after them will be the ones most affected by climate change, it is our duty as parents to inculcate a sense of eco-consciousness and civic-mindedness in our children for the betterment of society and the world.
Here are the top benefits of getting children to care about the environment:
Teaching your children empathy
Getting children to care about the environment creates empathy and compels them to think about how their actions shape the future. They will learn that they are not only responsible for themselves but also for others around the world and the generations that come after them.
Inform your children about how climate change affects different communities across the world which will let learn more about other viewpoints and issues that they might not have previously known about. This might also put their own struggles into perspective compared to others who are less fortunate and let your children be more grateful for what they have.
Creating a sense of responsibility
As part of learning to be responsible for their actions and how these actions can affect the environment, children should also be given the opportunity to interact closely with plants and animals. Bring them to parks and nature walks so that they will be able to immerse themselves in nature. This will help them develop a better understanding of why they should take care of the environment around them and preserve it in its natural glory.
Through these interactions, children will also develop a sense of responsibility for other creatures and learn about the need to protect green spaces such as not removing plants and animals from their habitat or polluting the environment.
Leadership involves many useful social skills such as making good decisions, justifying those decisions as well as being open to concerns and suggestions by others. Children do not necessarily need leadership roles to be a leader. One such example of how caring about environmental issues can help children develop leadership abilities is 11-year-old Oliver Chua. He is best known as being the youngest speaker at Singapore’s first climate rally.
Despite his young age, Oliver’s fearlessness and dedication to saving the environment drive him not only to make sustainable lifestyle changes but also to call upon others to do the same. His leadership ability can be clearly seen through his actions such as calling for schools to include compulsory lessons solely dedicated to environmental issues as part of their syllabus.
Encourage your children to do the same by talking to their teachers about setting up a communal garden to grow vegetables or giving a talk to promote recycling programmes. Apart from making small changes as an individual and as a family, support your children to spread awareness about environmental issues so that they can make a bigger impact to save the earth.
Developing leadership skills and being involved in environmental efforts can also help children build their self-confidence. Children will feel empowered once they are aware of environmental issues and know that they have the power to make a difference.
As a parent, you can aid this process by teaching them issues such as pollution and deforestation from a young age as well as the ways we can fight climate change. Educate your children about how to recycle, reducing the waste we produce and how to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives such as reusable bags and bottles. You can also ask your children thought-provoking questions and encourage them when they make eco-friendly choices.
Making a positive change
Ultimately, it is of great importance to raise children who are both eco-conscious and civic-minded as they are the ones who have the power to make a positive change in the world. Age is not as a barrier, as seen from the recent rise of youths leading or participating in climate rallies.
These youths are not only making a stand against climate change out of concern for the future and the planet that they will inherit. They are also helping to protect already fragile ecosystems and vulnerable communities that are affected by changing weather patterns.
Change begins with hope, and hope begins with our children. The time to act is now and teaching our children to take responsibility for the world around them is a duty for every parent. The best way is to start young, start small, and equip our children with the necessary skills to become advocators of real environmental change.
Click here to find out more about nature-based education programmes that can help groom your children to become leaders and global changemakers.