Dear Zaria: how do I talk about climate change with my kids?

Dear Zaria: how do I talk about climate change with my kids?

How do I prepare my child for climate collapse? It feels that our current systems are not acknowledging the real life challenges young kids will be facing when they become adults. We talk about climate change at home but it's so hard to truly be honest about how starkly different the future will look like. The the place she calls home now might not be livable in her lifetime.

Navigating change, especially in our immediate environments and communities, is a challenging task for anyone, regardless of age.

Dealing with the impacts of climate change is no different and your child would benefit from a caring, supportive space to support all of these big emotions.

It’s important to first assure your child that just because the climate is changing doesn’t necessarily mean that Earth will combust, and cease to exist, at any moment. The greatest and most noticeable changes to the environment, which they’ve already been exposed to, will continue to morph over the spans of their entire life.

I say this to fend off any feelings of doom, dread, fear, or anxiety that might come up. Instead, it might be more helpful to focus on climate resiliency, and the ways that we are actively working towards mitigating the environment’s changes—a movement that they could be a part of.

As a parent, you can use this as an opportunity to introduce your child to the world of climate action and expose them, early on, to personal, and community-led, sustainable initiatives and habits that they can then implement.

Show your child how, although things may happen that are out of our control, we are always able to remain in control of ourselves and our bodies.

Here are some tangible steps you can take to have this conversation with your child:

  1. Be honest, about the fact that the environments they’re used to might look different in a few years, but that they play a part in managing how different it might look through their actions.
  2. Leave room for Big emotions—Fear and anxiety only make navigating climate change even more difficult and staying in a relaxed, peaceful, emotionally regulated state, works wonders for managing any potential stress.
  3. Remind them that they’re not alone and that we are all, the entire human race, grappling with the fact that our communities are changing and this is something that unites us, rather than makes us feel more isolated and afraid.
  4. Take action—get involved, as a family, in local community organizing efforts where you can, to highlight the good work that is being done to combat these unfortunate circumstances.
  5. Be joyful. Get outside more! Enjoy the environment together, as a family, so that you and your child both learn to appreciate the environment, instead of associating it with sadness and grief.

Currently’s founder Eric Holthaus is a father of four, climate-conscious kids. He says, in conversations around climate change, most children are already aware of the fact that the environment as we know it is changing because they’ve witnessed this change over the course of their young lifetime, so it’s best to simply leave room for them to express their big feelings and let them lead the dialogue.

“These kids grew up with climate change in ways we can't even comprehend. Explaining it to them isn't necessary, they understand it in their bones.”

“They know their futures are up to them because they don't trust adults. So, letting them lead is the best way to give them the support they need to chart their path— whether that's spending more time in nature, designing games, or plotting the revolution.”