Part One: Caring for Kids While Caring About Climate

Published September 24, 2014

by Heather Doggett, Director of Visitor Programs and Staff Training

As parents we want to have empowering family conversations about climate change in a way that is productive and positive.

The recent headlines associated with the UN Climate Summit and the newest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report are prompting many to ask: “when/how should I start talking to my kids about climate change?”

Although the topic can be quite daunting, we know that kids can become engaged in positive, creative, solution-oriented conversations about climate science, so long as they have the emotional and cognitive maturity to understand the issue’s scope and are provided with a consistent source of hope and encouragement! 

In this three-part series, we’ll share ways to approach this important environmental topic with specific age groups.

Here are some general guidelines for kids ages seven and under:

  • It is best not to broach the subject unless your child brings it up. If they ask, simply answer their questions in just a few words, but be truthful.
  • Acknowledge their concern and reassure them that adults are working very hard on the problem.
  • Young children will develop a stronger conservation ethic as they mature, if you encourage them to connect with and love nature at this age. Save the eco-crisis discussions for after fourth grade.
  • Playing outside, climbing trees, making forts, bird watching, hiking and looking for bugs are key experiences to share with your child at this age to foster a strong connection and empathy with nature.
  • Reading books together about local animals, animal homes and life cycles will further nurture their connection to wildlife and help spark a desire to learn more.

There are reasons to be hopeful when we talk about climate change in a way that inspires our children and creates a vision for what is possible. 

Please feel free to share your ideas, comments and questions regarding how your family and your community are discussing climate change and possible solutions below! 

Stay tuned for part two and three of this series to learn more!

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Heather Doggett

Director of Visitor Programs and Staff Training

National Aquarium - Heather Doggett

About Heather Doggett

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