How to Teach Your Children Eco-Friendly Habits
Guest Post by Sophia Smith
Responsibility is one of the trickiest things to teach. It goes hand in hand with being environmentally conscious, but same as with pretty much everything else, simply telling your kid to think or act a certain way won’t get you very far. It’s very important that they reach some conclusions on their own, and to make this happen, you’ve got to help them create healthy habits and allow them to learn things from their surroundings.
So, how do we do that? How do we guide them and make them care about saving the planet, about making a better future? Well, we’ve got a few suggestions.
Plant a good ol’ tree
It’s a basic idea, but that doesn’t make it any less great. You see, planting a tree does one important thing – it gives your child the opportunity to use their hands. To touch the compost, to dig with tools, to hold the sapling in their hands, feel the living thing underneath their palms. Working with our hands is soothing, it’s almost spiritual, and kids love it because it feels like a game and lets them see the result of their work.
Imagine how glad they’ll feel a few years from now once the tree has grown a bit and starts blooming and giving shade. They’ll be a lot more inclined to protect nature because now they’ll have a personal investment in it.
Take example from your cat
And by this we mean look at a cat playing around with a cardboard box. If a cat can get creative and use it to amuse themselves, you can sure as hell do the same thing. Why dispose of a perfectly good cardboard box when you can instead turn it into an art project and make a spaceship, or a racing car, or a carriage? Encourage creativity and show them that expensive toys aren’t necessary to have fun.
Fight consumerism and declutter
We own so much stuff. Today’s consumerist society pushes us to buy more and more things – toys, clothes, gadgets, cosmetics, anything that will satisfy the need that companies create out of thin air. Just look around your own home: you own so many things that you don’t know where to put most of them. By indulging in this craze, you teach your child that they need material things to be happy.
If you want them to do good, you need to lead by example. Declutter your own home, pay attention to things that really matter. Teach your child to really value what they have, to appreciate what’s in their hands instead of immediately seeking the new, shiny thing that advertises so much and never delivers.
When you do buy things, teach your child that it’s good to buy from small, local businesses, or to shop second-hand. Take clothes, for example. Our kids grow so fast that most of their outfits become unusable after half a year. Why buy things in fancy, overpriced boutiques when you can do something a lot better and shop at second-hand online sites or stores? You can find anything from trousers for boys, to pretty dresses for girls online at a fraction of a price you’d pay in a designer boutique, and all of it is clean, made of quality materials, and in excellent condition.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle
These are the three words that your kid should learn early on. Tell them how almost everything can be used again and invite them to help you separate junk and materials for recycling. Make little art projects where you sit down together and make a new bag out of old jeans, or use old gloves to make them a toy. Teach them to always turn the light off when they leave the room, to never let the tap run while they’re brushing their teeth, to donate their clothes and toys. You can also try swapping. Once they are bored of their toys, meet up with other kids and swap for new things. These are little things, but they help create long-lasting habits and nurture a kind-hearted, eco-friendly mindset.
The best thing to instil these habits into your child is to simply do them yourself. They learn by example and soak up knowledge and experiences from their parents like a sponge, so if they see you acting responsibly, they’ll want to do it too. Lead by example and turn the whole process into a game and they’ll be eager to engage.