How to encourage children to be more sustainable?

Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

Your kids belong to a new eco-conscious generation. But it doesn’t mean that your kids will learn everything about sustainability on their own. Being a parent, you should guide your children and explain the difference between eco-friendly and non-eco-friendly choices. 

In this article, you will find a few tips on how you can teach sustainable habits to your kids.

Provide explanations and encourage questions 

Most kids don’t know the meaning of the word “sustainable”. They don’t really understand why they should refuse plastic straws or turn off the tap while brushing their teeth. 

As a parent, you should educate your kids on sustainability. You should explain to them how their choices impact the environment and provide illustrative examples. 

Let’s say you want your kids to stop using plastic bags and straws. If you tell your kids that “plastic is a bad thing” and explain nothing, your kids will unlikely become more sustainable. But if you explain that plastic straws may lend up in the stomachs of penguins or hurt turtles, it will motivate your kids to opt for green living.

Use positive motivation

Probably one of the biggest mistakes parents make is using negative motivation instead of positive motivation. That’s a totally wrong approach to parenting and education.

If you want your kids to be more sustainable, you should praise them for every little green choice they make. And you should never punish them for their mistakes. 

Even more, you should formulate your statements positively. For instance, you should say, “You will save a turtle if you skip this plastic straw,” rather than, “You will kill a turtle if you use this plastic straw”. Choose the right words, and it will be easier for your kids to understand you and follow your guidelines.  

Make it fun

Kids like to learn in a fun way. So if you want your children to learn more about the importance of sustainability, you should engage them in fun, eco-friendly games and activities. Here are a few examples of activities your family can get to enjoy this weekend:

  • Plant a tree in your garden or at the local park. Tell your kids about the role of trees in the global ecosystem.
  • Make laundry detergents at home (you can find step-by-step guidelines online). It’s a great fun activity for kids who like to work on STEM projects.
  • Create fun recycled crafts. It can be any craft of your kids’ choice: milk carton bird feeder, seed paper bookmark, cardboard dollhouse, pencil holder, etc.

Tap into educational content

Modern kids consume tons of content every day. You, as a parent, can control the situation and decide what movie or video your children will watch next. If you want your kids to understand the concept of sustainability better, add the following videos to their watch list:

  • Happy feet (age 5+)
  • Police Patrol (age 5+)
  • Arctic Tale (age 6+)
  • A Fish Tale (Help! I’m Fish) (age 6+)
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown (age 6+)
  • Adventure Planet (age 8+)
  • Chasing Coral (age 9+)
  • Before the Flood (age 9+)
  • I am Greta (age 10+)

Spend time outdoors

The more time your kids spend time in nature, the more eager they will be to protect the environment. So we recommend you make it a tradition to spend your family weekends in national parks exploring forests, lakes, canyons, and beaches. It will motivate your children to become more sustainable to preserve the beauty they see. 

Motivate for research work

Do your kids ask your opinion about everything? Do you help them to choose themes for essays and school projects? You can use this opportunity to draw your kids’ attention to sustainability issues.

Offer your children research topics related to air pollution, green energy, recycling, and global warming. Assure your kids that they can research any topic and become experts in any field. 

Be an example to follow

Now let’s talk about you as a person. How sustainable are you? Are you a great example to follow? If so, we have good news for you. You don’t need to try to encourage your children to make green choices. Kids always copy their parents’ behavior, so your son and daughter will live sustainably anyway.

However, if you are not sustainable enough, you should change your habits before you try to change your kids. 

You can be sure that once you become more eco-friendly in everyday life, your son and daughter will want to follow your example.

Take advantage of social media

Are you a teen parent? Do your children spend more time online rather than offline? Here is a tip for you: offer your kids to follow eco-bloggers on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms they are using.

Most teens listen to the opinions of social media influencers more than those of teachers and parents. So if your children follow the right influencers, they will learn many new things about sustainability and green living.

Wrapping up

Sustainability is a complex topic. So you shouldn’t expect that your son and daughter will become more sustainable overnight. Let your kids learn at their own pace and help them explore the world. Sooner or later, they will develop sustainable habits.


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