Climate activist and badass teen Greta Thunberg took America by storm. Her arrival and subsequent appearances in Washington D.C. were highly publicized and photos/videos of her powerful speeches were widely circulated around the internet.
Greta got very real about the whole situation of climate change acknowledging the possibilities of widespread death, possible human extinction, extreme weather, and massive temperature swings. This can be jarring for adults to take in, so what do kids think about this? Kids are inquisitive and pay more attention than we expect.
They know about climate change and probably don't have all the facts. This can cause anxiety in some kids. They have worries and fears like we all do. As a parent, you can help ease this anxiety by keeping the conversation flowing and making sure your child is not only informed, but ok with it all. Each child is different and takes in information differently. Children prone to anxiety and those who are more sensitive, are probably having the hardest time. Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about this difficult subject.
Don't Talk About It Too Much
Yes, it is happening, and yes we are feeling the effects now, but your child shouldn't be stressed out. Monitor what they see online and on TV. If your kid is anxious about it all, don't shield them completely, just limit their media consumption on the topic.
Focus on the Positive
There are many efforts underway against climate change. Show them all the groups and campaigns involved. Show them that there are people and scientists working to stop the climate from imploding. Look for local companies, businesses, or schools that are dedicated to greener living.
You and your family can make a change too. Even small changes can make a huge difference. Start recycling, dedicate to using reusable straws or join a climate march. You can even sign petitions and encourage local areas to go green.
Validate Their Feelings
As an adult, it can be easy to dismiss these anxious feelings as ridiculous coming from a child. Don't do that. Their fear is very real to them and with underdeveloped brains, they can't comprehend it all. Acknowledge their feelings and make sure they know you're there to help them through their anxieties.
Teach Coping Strategies
Coping strategies aren't just good for anxiety but good for life in general. Living a healthy lifestyle eating well and exercising can do wonders for mental health. If your child is suffering from anxiety, implement less screen time and more family time. Security and love can be helpful as well.
Greta Thunberg captured our attention and inspired a whole generation of kids to care about climate change and fight for their future. Images of her face wrinkled in disgust and speaking passionately, gripped us all. Greta was the head of the March for Our Lives mass protest in New York City that thousands of teens attended since they will be the first generation dealing with the mass effects of climate change.
While we can all make a difference, all we can do now is hope we can reverse the effects. If your child still feels anxious about climate change after sometime, seek professional help. Therapy, both group and individual, could be a good place to just talk. Also, medication may be needed in some cases when anxiety cannot be eased.
Kids and teens paying attention to climate change is a good thing but they need to be kids first.