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Five Tips For Talking To Your Children About Climate Change

kid globeIf you’re reading this blog, you probably are aware of climate change. More than likely, your kids have heard about it, too, whether it be at school, from friends, or from the media. Naturally, kids are going to have questions about things that they hear. But how to talk to your kids about global warming without giving them nightmares?

1. Be age appropriate. Very young children (early elementary, preschool, and younger) might not be ready for the negative details. Focus on instilling a love of and stewardship for the environment by encouraging outside play and the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) in your home. When talking to older elementary students, use that same stewardship as a jumping off point for talking about how our actions impact the climate, and how climate change will impact life on the planet. Take action as a family, and spend time together outside. Pre-teens and teens are more likely to be able to understand the global effects of climate change. They’re also capable of more extensive dialogue on the subject and activism on the issue if they feel passionate about it. Show your adolescent the myriad of ways people are acting on behalf of the environment and encourage them to investigate further, write letters, change their actions, or participate in protests.

2. Be honest. Be armed with general facts to support your belief in the reality of climate change and humanity’s impact on it, and when you child has questions, answer them as honestly as you can. Climate change is real, and kids need to know that–you don’t need to gloss over what’s happening. At the same time…

3. Be positive. Let your kids know that there are adults working hard to solve the problems associated with climate change and that there is reason to be hopeful. Emphasize that this is a problem with a solution that we can all contribute to, children and adults.

4. Set a good example. Show your kids sustainable behavior by modeling it. Use both sides of paper. Recycle. Use CFLs. Use your sustainable practices as a teachable moment for your kids. While walking to a local store instead of driving, talk to the kids about why our transportation choices matter. When shopping for school supplies, have your kids look for the recycled content logo and talk to them about the importance of buying recycled.

5. Use books. Did your parents, like mine, use books for support when giving you “the talk”? Yeah, I was mortified, too. But it doesn’t have to be that way when talking about climate change. There are plenty of good books about the environment, and climate change books are popping up all over the place. Check out the books that Ashley highlighted, Jennifer’s new children’s book blog, or my review of climate change books for ‘tweens.

Have you talked to child about climate change? What tips can you offer?

[This post was written by Kelli Best-Oliver]


  1. Hi there, I saw your blog on bloggers list of blogs of note, and what a fabulous one it turned out to be! Well done and keep up the good work.

    Editor at http://www.globalthemes.org

  2. Great tips – are already doing some and will implement some more.

    A great deal is also done throughout our schools as I found out recently when my son was asked if he knew what Global Warming was. He then proceeded to explain in quite soem detail for 15 minutes exactly what it was. The adult he spoke to was quite taken aback as my son is only 8 years old. And though some credit is due to his parents (namely my husand who spends loads of time explaining technical things to him), but some is down to the excellent way our school has taught the basics of recyling and global warming to the whole school of age group 5-11 years.

  3. Impressions and education begins early in life!

  4. Hi there…Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts..what a nice Saturday

  5. Great post. I think your advice is right on. Parents need to recognize that it’s time to have the talk about the birds and the bees (literally, the birds and the bees). Kids are hearing all this scary stuff through the media and at school, and parents want to make sure their kids are getting the right message: one that combines accurate, age-appropriate information with hope. Plus,if parents don’t talk about it, kids are going to feel more anxious and helpless.

    My company just published a book that can help parents and kids in this endeavor: A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids. It’s endorsed by Bill McKibben, U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. It provides parents with an overview/crash course on global warming, and it gives kids an opportunity to learn about climate change, to develop strategies to fight it, and to adopt a proactive, hopeful attitude.

    Thanks for your post and for raising this important issue.

  6. great tips,

    one suggestion is to make sure the child thinks locally about the environment. More and more children know about polar bears but dont know about the local nature issues and how they relate to climate.

  7. Think Green! – brand new illustrated children’s book, ages 3-7- 1st of it’s kind with eco-audit on back cover.
    Think Green! introduces and educates our youngest generation on ways to think and act green through colorful illustrations showing simple everyday ideas for children to help keep the earth clean and safe for all people, animals, fish and birds.

    Entertain * Educate * Empower
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    Visit the web site http://www.kidsthinkbig.com

  8. Even our youngest want to help and understand.


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  3. […] first is to be age appropriate. Kelli Best-Oliver suggests that “very young children (early elementary, preschool, and younger) might not be ready for […]

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