I’m delighted to be featured in a brand new magazine launched in Dubai yesterday.
If you want your children to appreciate our planet and grow up to be caring, compassionate adults, make being ‘green’ part of their routine while they’re young. Follow these experts’ nine easy tips for green kids, says Christine Fieldhouse
With technology dominating our children’s lives, getting them to raise their heads from their iSomethings and notice the world they live in, let alone appreciate it, isn’t always as easy as it sounds. They rarely go anywhere without a device – yes even the washroom! – and their close ‘friends’ are the people they know on YouTube, social media and online gaming, so getting kids to look further than their virtual world and even notice what’s going on in their environment can feel like an uphill struggle.
But experts say even in this digital age, we can still raise green kids – ethical children with strong values. They believe that with just a few tweaks to our parenting skills, we can show our kids how to care for the planet and treat everyone around them with love and respect.
‘It’s really easy to teach our children these lessons because they learn from everything we do,’ says parenting expert Sue Atkins, author of Raising Happy Children (John Wiley & Sons). ‘Children pick things up really quickly. Our habits and attitudes become theirs. But raising ethical children isn’t just about the environment – it’s also about creating well-rounded individuals with strong morals, who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.’
But what are these vital lessons and how do we go about teaching them to our children? We talked to three experts for their top tips on raising green kids….
1. Walk the talk
If children watch our every move and hear our every word from being tiny, it makes sense to be congruent and walk our talk, says Dubai-based psychologist Chantel Rijtma.
‘Children learn from everything we do,’ says Chantel, managing director of the UAE’s Personal Development Service Institute for Kids, which is based in Citadel Tower, Business Bay, and helps children develop their self-esteem and communication and social skills.
‘If they see their parents recycling paper and glass, treating water as if it’s precious, switching lights off when they’re not needed, and using energy-efficient lightbulbs, they will follow in the adults’ footsteps.’
Sue Atkins, who helps people all over the world to be better parents, stresses we must act as role models for our children when it comes to being ethical. ‘It doesn’t work if you tell your children to be kind and patient and then they hear you shouting at another motorist when you’re driving them to school,’ she says.
If you ask children not to brush their teeth under a running tap, and then you let it run while you do yours, you’re telling them to do one thing and you’re doing another. They will reach their teenage years and call you a hypocrite.’
Sue suggests starting young. ‘Look at picture books with toddlers about the world,’ she says.‘Talk about why you recycle items. Chat about people from different places in the world and how we all need to work together to look after our planet.’