How do you tell your children about climate change?

This cartoon of my daughter aged 7 is basically a revamp of an earlier cartoon I drew when she was 4:

Her reactions have not changed in that time, she is still very sensitive and prone to dramatic meltdowns about the smallest of things, and I still haven’t had a talk with her or her younger sister about climate change. I’ve only ever obliquely made references to ways her future might be different:

I’ve been trying to get help and inspiration as to how (and when!) to talk about it properly by reading Parenting in a Changing Climate by Elizabeth Bechard, buying the Usborne Climate Crisis for Beginners book to read with them, attending a Climate Circle for Parents/Carers/Guardians and Climate Cafe run by the Climate Psychology Alliance, and doing a Courageous Conversations training session with Thoughtbox. (Thoughtbox also has some great teaching resources for teaching climate change to different age groups, that help children to cope with their emotional responses to learning about something that is obviously going to have a massive effect on their future and the way they live.)

I feel a bit more prepared now, but still not quite ready to actually do it. I’m torn between wanting to keep them in the dark as long as possible so it’s not something they worry or feel guilty about, and wanting it to be told to them in a way that is less scary/off-putting than if they hear it from an outside source, and a way that enables them to be mentally prepared to face what’s coming and to appreciate the nature that we still have and want to fight for it.

I also want them to know about climate change and the various ecological crises so they can understand why we live the way we do-why we don’t fly, why our house is smaller than most houses they go to, why mummy nags them about turning off the light and not wasting the water, why I don’t want to buy them a million presents, why I take them on the bike even in the rain, and hopefully soon why we eat less meat and don’t have a car (although these last two things have to be signed off by my husband too which is a whole other series of challenging conversations!).

I think what I’m going to do is recommend the ThoughtBox materials to my daughter’s headmaster and see if they can be incorporated in her curriculum soon, and I’m going to try start an English-speaking Climate parenting group here in Brussels -part book group to discuss climate books/part support group to make positive changes in our lives/part emotional support group for us and our kids.

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