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Earth Day🌍: 3 Ways to Empower Our Kids During the Climate Crisis

Updated: 7 days ago

By Anna Gilchrist | April 22, 2024


Children recycling plastic water bottles /Wix Media

“To be completely honest, I think we are doomed,” Georgia responded during our discussion about the climate crisis. She is an intelligent, curious ten-year-old child I babysit for a few hours after school, along with her twin sister, a few times a week.

Her bright and creative sister, Stephanie, had a less pessimistic answer, “Climate change is getting worse, and we should do something about it.”

They are not wrong. This month, the UN climate chief Simon Stiell stated that humanity has only two years left '“to save the world”, and with the previous year being labeled as the hottest year on record by far, it is clear we are running out of time to make this world a livable one for our children.


Both of their responses made me realize the impact the climate crisis is having on our youth, and why it needs to be addressed immediately. One of the developmental foundations of childhood is imaginative play, which allows children to use their imaginations to create scenarios and characters they see in the world during play. 
If the younger generations feel helpless about the future of our planet, how can we expect them to imagine or dream of a world they can live in, or have enough hope as they grow older to make a difference? 

The truth is a sad one: A child without a dream is a child who has lost all innocence, and we may have robbed them of both their childhood and adulthood.

Fortunately, there is still time - albeit limited - to correct our lack of action and give our children a chance to grow in a sustainable world. Empowering our children with the tools and resources to be resilient is one of the best ways to ensure they can cope with what the future may hold for them.

Teen girls looking over mountainous terrain

Here are three ways to empower our children and teach them resilience during the climate crisis:

 1. Share some positive news currently happening about our Earth and the climate.
Yes, there is climate progress happening, and there are some great family-friendly media sources where children can receive positive updates on the Earth, including Time for KidsDOGOnews, and Science Journal for Kids. Feel free to openly discuss what is happening with our planet and ask what are your children’s thoughts about what you shared. 

 2. Engage in Earth-friendly, sustainable, renewable, and environmentally friendly activities with your children. 
There are plenty of Earth Day activities you can do together to practice sustainable living with your children, including recycling, biking, taking public transit, making compost from food waste, and so much more. By establishing environmentally friendly habits today and sticking to them, it will become easier for children to develop the skills to better live in our currently changing world.

 3. Provide them with books about our planet that state ways in which children can help our planet. 
Books are a great way to show a child ways to help heal the planet. Here are some examples of books that you can share with your little blossoms to show ways they can make a difference today!

Bonus Tip: Show your kid how they can be politically involved by writing their local state official or congressperson, explaining why climate action is important to them, and asking them why has there been a sluggish response to the climate crisis.

Children cleaning up litter in park

“So, what do you think we can do?”, I asked the twins. “You can do something, like small things, like every other day or once a week, that you can do to make a difference,” Stephanie explained, “Like picking up trash, protest…things like that.”

“I think that instead of plastic water bottles, we should use leather water satchels," Georgia proclaimed. "They don’t get mold or mildew, and they are easier to carry.”
 
Both shared wonderful ideas, which gave me more hope for them and their future. 

The kids may be alright, for now, but our planet - our spherical home in space - is, undoubtedly, in need of recovery. We cannot absolve ourselves from our lack of climate action, and how it has infringed on our children's right to live on a habitable planet. They, like the generations before them, should be permitted an opportunity to grow up with a thriving future.

This Earth Day, it’s time that we take full responsibility for the climate crisis and work to give our children the livable planet they deserve.

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Anna Gilchrist is a children's author, youth rights advocate, and founder of Sandfish Publishing. She received her MFA in Childhood Studies at Swansea University and has published two children's books, both of which can be found on Amazon and her website. When she is not writing, she loves to spend her free time cooking gourmet meals, singing and dancing to 90's hits, and tending to her multiple plants in her New Jersey home.











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