Children are the future. They are tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, and educators. They have the potential to be, do, or accomplish anything. It would be a terrible waste to not inform our children about the dangers of old energy sources and the promise of new, cleaner ones. It is important, however, to educate our kids in a way that will leave a lasting, positive impression.
When discussing any environmental concern, we must take the age of the child into account. You can sit a 5-year-old down and discuss greenhouse gas emissions and global warming with them but if you use a lot of technical jargon and adult language, they will be left confused instead of informed. When dealing with very young children, it is important to describe things in a way they can understand. You can explain that the stuff that comes from driving cars and burning coal and wood hurts our planet. Keep the conversation light and avoid saying things that may frighten or disturb them. If you tell a first-grader that the planet is going to be destroyed by pollution, they will become so worried for themselves and their loved ones that they may avoid thinking about the subject at all. Instead, focus on the positive. Tell them about getting energy from the sun and wind, how it makes the planet happy, and how much money it can save.
It is appropriate to introduce older children to some of the more technical terms. They will be better equipped to cope with the ramifications of old energy sources, as long as you continue to avoid a doom-and-gloom approach. The pre-adolescent years are the perfect time to discuss news stories involving green technology advances with your child. Share your opinions and allow your child to do the same. At this age, they are very creative since their minds have not been closed by many of the biases of society. Encourage them to experiment with solar and wind power. There are many kits and toys available that enable children to build and test solar and wind-powered gadgets.
If your child is a teen, he or she is ready to learn about the different greenhouse gas emissions, their sources, and the available alternatives. Young adults can put the financial gains involved in alternative fuel use into perspective. At this age, encourage further experimentation on a larger, more technical, scale. This is also the appropriate time to help your child research college and career choices in the green energy field. Be attentive and listen to your child’s opinions and ideas with an open mind. Make sure you only use constructive suggestion and never criticize their ideas. Rejection of their ideas at this stage could make them feel like they have nothing to contribute to society.
As parents, it is our privilege to help our children grow into their full potential. With our planet at stake, isn’t it important to include a thorough green education into their upbringing? With patience, understanding, and encouragement, today’s children will grow into the leaders and scientists of tomorrow, who will complete the ever-important goal of a global switch to clean energy.