‘You can start at any age’: Ways to have conversations about the climate with your kids

SPOKANE, Wash. — We’re turning the corner on what was the hottest summer on record in the U.S. That’s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This new research beats the previous record for hottest summer which was set back in 1936. A great way to understand the climate’s complexities according to local climate professors is to get outside and immerse yourself in nature.

“Nature’s resilient. Nature’s going on, and it’s worth protecting,” said Jiana Stover, program coordinator for Science in Action.

Finding ways to protect nature can start at any age, and these professors say the sooner the better.

“Listen to young people. You’d be surprised at how much they already know about climate change,” said Brian Henning, professor and Director for the Gonzaga Center for Climate, Society and the Environment.

“The more you can use the words that go along with that understanding, that can help them understand actual climate change later, it’s perfect. You can start at any age,” Stover said.

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Using words like climate are a great starting point. Stover has a three-and-a-half year old son. She says she’s already teaching him about the environment by getting outside and exploring the Spokane River and all the hiking trails.

“I think that that’s why it’s so great to not hide these things away from them but also to bring in the hope,” she said.

Finding hope can help us protect all the valuable natural resources we’re surrounded by. We’re coming off an intensely dry and smoky summer which are things kids notice.

“When we have summers with intense heat waves and terrible smoke, children are noticing that things aren’t normal,” Henning said.

Normalizing climate conversations and having them often can help you use less water, cut down on your carbon footprint and brainstorm ways to cherish the climate.

“We’re hopeful that young people can continue to be our conscience and lead us to preserving the future that they’re going to be inhabiting,” Henning said.  

Both say it’s important to have these conversations often to inspire agency. Here’s some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Listen to what they have to say.
  2. Focus on scientific facts.
  3. Ask about their feelings and concerns for the future.

Gonzaga’s Climate Center has literature and ideas on ways to start these conversations. You can find more information here.

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