Children learn by following the example of the adults around them. This simple fact underscores the importance of leading by example, including matters involving the environment.
You can start teaching your children how to do things the green way from the start. This actually makes it easier for them to adopt eco-friendly practices because they do not have to remember a separate process, they simply learn to do it right the first time.
Of course, there are activities that are appropriate for different age groups, so while it may be unreasonable to expect a child of three to choose the environmentally friendly toy all on his own, you can easily teach your toddler to turn off the tap while brushing his teeth. Incorporating it into his daily routine makes it easier for him to remember and he will eventually understand the importance of his learned behaviour and appreciate his own efforts.
Below is a list of several actions you can teach your child that help the environment.
Turn off the lights when leaving the room.
You can remind your children that sunlight is often sufficient illumination during the day and instil in them that they should remember to turn off the lights when they are leaving the room.
Turn off electronics when not in use.
Children of all ages tend to walk off on the television, radio and even computer without turning them off. Remind them that if it’s not in use it should be switched off to conserve energy.
When raising an environmentally aware child, speak to them about the impact of using public transportation and the importance of sharing the responsibility of driving to a common destination. Older children will appreciate the knowledge that they are reducing their carbon footprint every time they board the bus or pick up a friend instead of driving separately.
Teach them to reuse and recycle.
Instead of allowing your children to clamour for new items, challenge them to find a new use for an existing item or to place it in a common area for donation. This exercise not only stimulates their creativity by encouraging them to come up with innovative ways of using old items, but it also introduces them to the concept of charity while reminding them to think of the environment in everything that they do.
Show them how to separate the rubbish.
Children can recognise which material goes in which container from a very young age. It is similar to playing a game of memory. While they may not initially understand the reasons behind the activity they can certainly make a game of putting the rubbish in the correct bin and learn the reasons why later on.
Take them outside.
By giving them the opportunity to connect with nature they may develop an appreciation and maybe even curiosity for the earth. It is easier to instil green living practices if they have a sense of what they are trying to save, so arranging trips to the park or the local zoo help in raising their awareness of the world outside of the television and video games.
Expose them to gardening.
Take the children outside and get them involved in growing vegetables or herbs for family use. One of the many benefits of children gardening is that they will have a sense of pride that they are contributing to the family and have some fun learning a new skill and playing outside.
Use a reusable shopping bag.
When you are going shopping be sure to remember your reusable shopping bag and take the opportunity to explain to your older children the benefits of taking your own. Get them their own when they are of age, and you can be a good example and an inspiration to your kids to do the right thing.
Teaching children how to live green is a matter of instilling good practices early in life. The earlier you start the easier it is to train them in eco-friendly living.