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Dr. B's Blog

How To Speak With Kids About Global Warming And Climate Change

Recently there has been a lot of talk in the media about global warming and climate change with accompanying photos graphically displaying the damage wrought by natural disasters all over the world. Although it is important for the public to be aware of the issues involved, there can be immediate and long-term anxieties created in children who worry about the effects on their future.

According to pediatrician, Dr. Samantha Ahdoot who is a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on Global Climate Change and Children’s Health, “The mental health consequences of extreme weather events and the effects of living in a world that is changing, can invoke fear in children.” There are approaches that parents and other caregivers can utilize to calm the fears of children, which should be explained at a level which they can understand.

Conservation psychologist, Susan Clayton, states that specific analogies which children can easily understand can be very helpful. She states that an adult could say to a young child, “Our atmosphere is like a blanket that keeps the Earth warm, but that blanket has become too thick because of gases that we put in the air” making what’s under the blanket too hot.

For all age groups, Ahdoot and Clayton recommend that parents should avoid presenting too pessimistic a view, so that children and teens don’t feel helpless.

Psychologist and Climate Advocate, Lise Van Susteren advocates 3 steps to use while speaking to children about global warming and climate change.
  1. Find out what the child has heard and give him/her a chance to express their emotions.
  2. Be relatable and honest by explaining that they’re not alone in their worries but that it’s not hopeless.
  3.  Explain that there are things that they can do about it and give examples that they can understand such as: “global warming can be helped by turning off the lights when we leave a room” or “driving a hybrid car can help with climate change.” In addition, coming up with family activities to do to improve the environment such as organizing a community clean-up of the park or becoming involved in a recycling project can motivate and empower children that there is something that they can do to help the situation.
Explaining global warming and climate change to kids in a way that they can understand and
helping them to become involved in the effort to improve the environment can go a long way towards
making them feel hopeful about and invested in their future.

Posted: 10/7/2019 4:41:34 PM | 0 comments