Teaching your children about the importance of sustainability is a very important task. Children can understand complex subjects if taught in a way they can relate to—depending on the age of your children, different methods may or may not resonate with them. Younger children may need more interactive activities to grasp the concept, while teens and tweens may be able to sit down and have an intelligent and productive conversation about it with you. Check out this guide on how to teach kids about sustainability.
Lead by example
This method is typically effective for all ages. No matter how old they are, children watch their parents and follow their lead. As a parent, you’re one of the most influential people in your child’s life. If you prioritize living sustainably, your child will think of this as the norm and follow your example. Instill values early on by making recycling a priority in your home, limiting plastics, and buying ethically. For example, if you wear natural women’s clothing from an ethical source, your kids are more likely to look for clothing that mimics this later in life.
Talk to them about it
Children are more capable of intelligent conversation than most adults give them credit for. When they’re in the right mind set and can tell their parents are passionate about the subject, they’ll do their best to engage and understand. Make sure to encourage questions, and don’t talk down to them. Children respond to being spoken to like adults—simply foster a space where they can interrupt with questions as they pop into their heads. Mention what a sustainable life looks like, and note ways in which your family is sustainable as well as areas in which your family could improve. Be sure to include how your kids can contribute on their own—children love to take on responsibility.
Create a weekly sustainability activity
This step can combine family time and teachable moments. One day a week, plan an activity that fosters a more sustainable life to do with your child. For example, you could have your child help you plant a small backyard garden one day and then help you harvest when the plants yield. Another fun activity that teaches sustainability is to have them help you repurpose things. For example, if a piece of clothing rips, teach them how to cut it up and make it into something new.
Children love to learn and understand new things. Teaching them about sustainability can translate to a lifelong skill they can then teach others about and pass on.