How to talk with kids about climate change?

It seems like every day, another report about climate change with scary consequences makes headlines. “2019 capped world’s hottest decade in recorded history.” “Australia fires will be ‘normal’ in warmer world.” “Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second.”

Climate change is a big, important topic – and chances are good, the kids in your life are asking questions. But when the topic paralyzes even many adults, how do we talk to kids in a way that is real, but not terrifying?

Validate their feelings

Let them talk about their anxiety. Don’t brush it off, even if it seems silly to you. Children want to know that their caregivers offer a safe place for them to share their feelings.

Remind them that others feel this way

It helps to know they aren’t alone. Many people – including many adults – are concerned about the planet. We can work together to solve this crisis.

Explain in age-appropriate terms

Young children don’t need much more than a few sentences – always coupled with reassurance that the grown-ups are already working toward a solution. For slightly older kids, look for videos online that will satisfy their growing curiosity.

Encourage them to get involved

For young kids, it might be as simple as going outside. Give them a love of nature. For older kids, it might be getting involved in an environmental student group at school. Let them dictate how active they want to be.

Find Hope

one successful strategy was to develop trust that others are working on this problem — to realize none of us are alone. A second was to focus on the many benefits of a sustainable future, like more social justice, stronger communities, better health.