This is a worthy goal to pursue as the little humans we are raising will be the adults of the future. They hold the planet’s wellbeing in their hands. There are many things we can do to help our children become the responsible adults we wish for them to be.
It doesn’t have to be hard work – in fact a lot of it can be very playful and fun!
We just want the best for our children, ourselves, and our big beautiful planet. After all, there is no plan B for planet Earth, right?
- Start when they are young. Take walks with them talking about nature. Show them the seasons changing, collect shells on the beach, collect pretty stones, pebbles, sticks, leaves or whatever interests them. Talk about how plants grow, and the water cycle.
- Get them into the kitchen with you! Cook together – this can be a lot of fun. Messy, playful fun! They get to stir and taste. Talk to them about how much energy and water goes into growing meat vs. growing vegetables. Teach them about protein sources, describing them as the building blocks of our bodies. Allow them to get creative and experimental.
- Grow your own food at home. Children and adults alike enjoy watching things grow. You can experience such a good feeling when you watch something grow from a seedling, knowing all your love and care affected the growth of your plant. And when you get to eat the bounty of your harvest – added bonus! Little ones are also more likely to try new flavours when they have grown the herbs spices or vegetables themselves than if they were store-bought.
- Take them grocery shopping with you. Talk to them about where their fruits and vegetables come from and how they look when they are growing. For example, buying carrots with the green tops shows a much more accurate picture of a real carrot than something that is peeled, pre-sliced and put in a can.
- Take them out litter picking in areas that you have noticed are particularly hard hit. Beaches that were once beautiful, clean and sandy are now littered with plastics that are causing problems for turtles, dolphins and fish. Wear gloves or bring a trash grabber so that you can keep the experience safe and hygienic for everyone involved. It is all about the children feeling like they are making a noticeable difference and having a good time in the process.
- Watch nature programs together on TV. There are so many wonderful educational TV programs about animals, nature and different parts of the world. Learn together, and if they ask questions that you don’t know the answers to you can look them up together. The more they learn about animals and nature, the more they will have an appreciation for them and why what we do has an impact on the creatures we share a planet with.
- Role model the behaviours you want them to demonstrate. If you would like them to be energy conscious, then remember to lead the way. Switch off lights when you leave a room, and switch off the TV at the socket instead of just leaving it on standby. If you want them to conserve water, show them how by switching the water off at the tap while you brush your teeth. Use the half flush button for “number ones” and the full flush button for “number twos”.
Camilla Gammelgaard-Baker is Parenting Coach and Psychodynamic Counsellor working with clients all over the world. With a background in psychology and with 20+ years experience of working with families, she is known for her work with Mothers to overcome self-doubt and burn-out. She currently lives a very eco-friendly life in Denmark with her husband, son, cat and dog.