The most effective way to teach your children anything is to set an example yourself. When it comes to teaching young kids about green living, you will not even have to explain a lot since most children are curious about nature and have an innate consideration for Mother Earth. When they see you volunteer your time and efforts to care about the environment, other people, plants, and animals, they will see that making a difference in the world is worthwhile, and will approach it with enthusiasm and sincerity. At times they might rebel against order and doing what is expected of them, especially when they get a bit older. But this is just a phase. As long as you keep the green practices entertaining, they will foster a healthy green attitude no matter what.
Here are some suggestions on how to start.
1. Encourage an active lifestyle
By regularly spending time in nature, your kids will develop respect for it. Spend more time outdoors with your children. Go play in the nearby park, ride bicycle with them, or go hiking. Ditch the car and walk to the store or to school together. Show them that there are nature-friendly alternatives to driving and leaving unnecessary carbon footprints. Take them to a farm and introduce them to animals. Teach them to appreciate the food that is on their table every day. Pick up garbage after other people and your children will want to contribute to a cleaner environment themselves by following your example.
2. Let them Grow Their Greenery
Spring is almost here, and it is a perfect time to introduce your children to gardening. If you do not have a yard where they could grow their own garden, a pot on the windowsill will do. When children see a plant develop under their care, they will feel directly responsible for the nature. This way, you will also teach them about sustainable living. If your kids are really small and beginners at gardening, make sure you pick some plants that can take the harsh treatment by someone inexperienced. Also, in order to avoid any discouragements, choose plants that are fast-growing, and can survive irregular watering. Bean seed is a classic choice, but it would be even better to choose a plant that gives colorful and edible fruits. Sampling the food they grew will make your children proud. They will learn to love the process and will want to do it all over again. Tomato and pepper plants can be easily grown in a pot indoors.
3. Choose toys wisely
In the consumerist society that we live in, many people spoil their children with tons of unnecessary expensive toys. Instead, think twice before buying them a new toy. Declutter their closet regularly and encourage them to give away the toys they have outgrown and that they no longer play with. Explain to them how donating can help save some of the natural resources. Discuss with them what toys they would like to have and try to find ecologically friendly alternatives. Whenever possible, pick quality toys that are more durable, but also recyclable.
4. Shop Wisely
Foster your child’s eco-friendly shopping habits. How? Start from food. Teach them to eat organic and fresh products, while restricting junk food. Take them to a farm to see where our food comes from, or introduce them to farmers at a farmers’ market. When it comes to clothes, teach them that it does not have to be branded and expensive. It is imperative that the clothes are made of quality material and comfortable, allowing your children to move freely and letting their skin breathe. You can find such clothes at online retail portals like www.swap.com, where you can easily sell old and find new affordable clothes for them. The kids outgrow their clothes fast, so that is why this is a convenient option. Another advantage of online shopping for moms is that you do not have to leave the comfort of your sofa, you can browse through clothes on the computer and do the shopping without the stressful part of running around after your children in a shopping mall.
5. Explain energy efficiency
Make it a rewarding game. Set some basic green rules and reward your kids whenever they follow them. You can even print the rules and post them in the house, together with a scoreboard where you will list all family members. Kids love competitive games. Have them switch off the lights whenever they are not in a room. Set a rule that will make them turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Some other rules you could introduce: take quick showers instead of baths; use microwave in the summer instead of ovens (this only applies if your kids are old enough); keep the lids on the pots when cooking; wash only full loads of clothes; line dry your clothes; do the laundry at night; do not keep the refrigerator door open for a long time; replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents; etc.
Have you already set any green rules for your kids?