Guest Blog by Jeroo Doodhmal, Founder of Pip & Henry
Global extinction, climate change, environmental pollution – these are all words our children are now getting introduced to at an early age. And experts say climate anxiety is increasingly taking a toll on the mental health of children.
So, here’s some handy tips we’ve picked up along the way on how to approach climate change in a developmentally sensitive way with young children (ages 0-7) – so they can take in more complex information as they get older without becoming despondent!
Engage in activities that inspire environmental wonder
Little children can’t understand words like ‘deforestation’ or ‘carbon footprint’. But it’s not hard to teach them about nature and how things grow and can thrive with a little bit of care and attention from us.
So plant that seedling in a pot, go on hikes and point out the birds and butterflies, show children how bees are attracted to flowers and need them to survive, let them look for nests and squirrels in the woods, point out how the leaves change colour with a change in seasons….these are all easy and engaging ways to raise a sensitive and mindful little environmentalist!
Read, play games and join activities that focus on the environment
There are some lovely storybooks that can help you start conversations about certain topics that you may want to discuss with your little one. Somebody Swallowed Stanley has a powerful message about the threat of plastic in the ocean; Pip and Henry’s Bug Hunt helps reassure children that not all bugs are scary; Greta and the Giants inspires children to stand up against the ‘giants’ to help save the planet….and there are many many more!
If your child is interested in digital games, check out Earth Cubs – an environmental learning platform for 3-7 year olds through gaming and edutainment.
There are also organisations like Eco-Schools who work with nurseries, schools and communities to inspire and engage the younger generation though a fun, activity-based framework.
Recognise and reward small steps and activities
In a world full of scary news, it’s important to help children feel empowered to make changes in their lives that would help protect the planet. So encourage and praise them for their initiatives…no matter how small they may be. It could be as simple as saying “Thank you for not throwing that wrapper on the ground…it would have hurt the squirrel if he accidentally ate it”, or “Thanks you for turning off the light, that’s protecting energy and saving the planet”.
And finally, do remember to keep the dialogue with your little ones positive. Focus on the good news and reassure children that scientists do have solutions that could avoid the worst impacts…and that awareness is growing and collectively we can all turn things around!
About Jeroo Doodhmal
Jeroo is the Founder of the sustainable kids' footwear company, Pip & Henry. All of Pip & Henry's shoes and packaging are eco-friendly. Their packaging materials are recyclable, and the shoes are made of materials like organic cotton, recycled TPR soles, and a material that looks and feels like leather but is actually made of pineapple leaves.