Excerpts from How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action
By Harriet Shugarman Publication Date May 5th.
As you grow and expand your personal knowledge about the immediate crisis of COVID19, I trust that the following will inform you. These excerpts from my upcoming book will give you ideas on talking to your children – as we all work to navigate the rough and uncharted COVID19 waters. Until recently, most of us hadn’t heard of a coronavirus – and if you are like me, the science around COVID19 remains very murky. Yet, as we learn more, I think that as Climate Mamas and Papas, you will find solace and help in the incredible similarities between the urgency of addressing this novel and new virus and the ways we speak about our climate crisis to our children, to our friends and to ourselves.
Below are excerpts, taken directly from my new book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, which is available for order now and will be shipped by early May. These are direct quotes from the book. I have put into square brackets the word [Covid19] but otherwise the sentence or paragraph is as it is written in the book. To me, and I think to you – our Climate Mamas and Papas – it is eerily similar how closely connected the ways we talk about and work through the experiences we are having with the COVID19 crisis and the ways we talk about our climate emergency. How we manage through, and how we share this information and these experiences with our kids feels more than challenging at times, yet at the same time it is doable – we can and we must.
Excerpts from How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action:
Some broad advice for you
I have found that in the midst of the sadness, the grief and the loss that climate change [COVID 19] brings, that taking time and finding ways to connect with what and who we love, can renew our passions and our hopes.
Even in the midst of the climate [COVID19] urgency we face, allow yourself to rest for a moment; remove the weight of the crisis from your shoulders. You are not alone. Take deep breaths, let go of any guilt that you may feel by letting your mind and your heart wander from the crisis for a brief time. Give yourself permission to take the time to appreciate something funny or something mundane. Our lives continue….
Hopefully the following will give you some tools, to add to your parental toolkit. I have listed 4 examples, thoughts, and ideas for each age group.
For Children of All Ages
- Many of your children – like many of us – are angry, confused and frightened. Reassuring your children, when deep down you often feel a hollow pit in your stomach, causing you to wonder if indeed you can keep your promises to them, may seem impossible. So, take a deep breath and do as you tell your children to do: take it one step at time.
- As a parent, sharing the truth about our climate [COVID19] crisis is key, as is sharing the reality that we don’t know for sure how quickly actions can begin to help our planet to heal, once put in place. The urgency remains and is something we will live with, but it is carried on the back and in the arms of us all. The depth of your explanation on the reality of the climate [COVID19] crisis, as with many things you discuss with your child, should be geared to the age of your child, and to what you know your child can handle.
- Over family meals or during quiet times together, chat about the actions you have seen or participated in. Use these opportunities to discuss the importance of justice, fairness, equality and equality and how interconnected and important these seemingly separate concepts are to creating climate [COVID19] solutions.
- Finding ways to share how we are working to tackle our fears, our concerns and worries head on, will help our children tackle theirs. This will take many forms and involves as many questions as there are answers. Remember too, to ask your children what they think, and learn from them too. The wisest and most honest and direct answers often come from our children. They see things clearly; they are not yet jaded or influenced by nuances and prejudices.
Birth to Preschool
- Children under 5, in almost all instances, are too young to even begin to comprehend the precarious world they have been born into. Upon bringing a child into the world, your immediate task is to keep them safe, well cared for, well fed and well loved.
- Starting when they are babies, your love and concern for your children will be shared in large part almost as if through osmosis; as you talk to them, read to them and are truly present with them, they will feel your love and know deeply that you care for them.
- As we live climate change [COVID19] – as life itself becomes more challenging in so many ways – feeling loved and giving love take on added importance.
- If you are a hugger, create more opportunities to give your child hugs. If you’re not, show your love through your looks, words, actions and deeds, and through time spent together.
Preschool through elementary
- Sometimes, words and stories create themselves. Sadly, as we live climate change [COVID19] ..its impacts will become more common occurrences in all our children’s lives, through their personal experiences or experiences of family or friends. These events will provide opportunities to discuss climate change [COVID19] directly and should be addressed in an age-appropriate way.
- Creating a family climate [COVID19] plan or family climate [COVID19] roadmap is a great family exercise that can be expanded, adjusted and discussed…on a regular basis. Make your plan simple but straightforward; it should be a positive way to keep the climate [COVID19] conversation a part of your family’s everyday lives in a proactive way.
- The resiliency and adaptation side is about how we can build up and protect ourselves from our unfolding climate [COVID19] crisis, and how we want to adapt our lives to deal with the changes that our climate [COVID19] emergency will inevitably bring. In all likelihood, you have a fire emergency plan and a safe place to go in a natural disaster, with emergency numbers and more.
- As families, we must acknowledge and treat our climate [COVID19] crisis as the emergency it is. We must prepare and be prepared.
Middle school, High school and beyond
- As always, make sure to provide the facts and speak the truth, but encourage them to do their own research as well. Then, as they ready themselves to talk more about our climate [COVID19] crisis with their friends, they will be more aware and up to date about the science of climate change [COVID19] and, hopefully, more savvy about how to communicate in a non-partisan, open and direct way.
- From my perspective, reminding our children through examples of kindness, even as we face our urgent reality, matters more than ever. We mustn’t’ forget, in our haste to take climate [COVID19] action, that the lessons of compassion, kindness, justice, empathy and thoughtfulness, particularly as the world seems to spin out of control, remain our parental responsibility.
- Inertia and fear must not slow us down….We therefore need to begin imagining what the future we want looks like. We need to talk about this future and regularly share our vision for what it will look like with our children, friends, family and beyond. This will be a vision of something new, something different, something hopeful and yet something concrete – something we can build and create together.
- For our journey to be truly successful, we must find ways to stand together for climate justice, human rights, and equality, for love and against hate. We must stand together for the full respect of science and for immediate and long-term solutions to the global crisis of climate change [COVID19].
Warmly and with love,
Your Climate Mama
How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, is available for order now!