As the effects of climate change continue to enter our lives, through stories and images in the media, or as we experience poor air quality, fears about the future may be on the rise. Climate scientists predict “more frequent and severe extreme weather events, widespread biodiversity loss, and threats to food and water security. These looming threats have led to what experts are calling eco-anxiety or climate anxiety.”
The rise in climate anxiety appears to be especially high among young people, who may believe they will experience greater impacts than older generations. For parents and caregivers looking to help their child navigate these fears, here are some strategies that may help.
Because climate change is so threatening and overwhelming, when a young person expresses worry, it’s important to validate their fears. Once their concerns have been validated, you can work towards processing the anxious feelings.
Showing that you care, and being honest about any anxiety you experience around climate change can help young people know that it is both normal and manageable. “Be explicit with kids about your thinking and coping strategies. “For example, if you’re going to the grocery store together, you might talk about bringing reusable bags,” says Berman. “But if you forget them, you can say aloud: ‘It’s okay, I’ll remember next time.’"
There are tangible steps that can be taken to addressing climate change, and because problem-solving is empowering, finding ways to contribute with your child can alleviate some fears and foster hope. Younger children may be interested in recycling, composting, reducing plastic use, planting pollinator gardens, and taking walks or bike rides instead of driving. Older children may be more enthusiastic about generating awareness or raising funds for environmental organizations or causes.
If you are a parent or caregiver in Waterloo Region and would like support for a child experiencing anxiety or other mental health challenges, you can contact Lutherwood’s Front Door as a first step. Visit our Front Door website or call us at 519-749-2932.
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