Climate Change

The importance of explaining climate change to children

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Whyzz CEO Constanze Niedermaier discussed with Global Citizen's Natalie Prolman why we need to discuss climate change with our children:

By Natalie Prolman on Nov. 11, 2015, First published on Globalcitizens.org

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Constanze Niedermaier, author of the book "33 Things to Talk to Kids About Global Challenges," at a dinner party in New York. We got to talking and quickly realized that we were both in the world of advocacy. Her mission: to facilitate meaningful conversations between families about important topics such as biodiversity, global warming, agriculture, dignity, and moral values. My mission: to empower young people to fight climate change and to be a part of the movement to create a more sustainable future for local and indigenous communities while conserving forests, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting wildlife. I thought it was extremely interesting that her efforts were focused on children, an age group that I think unfairly gets left out of these important conversations. After all, it is THEIR future that is at risk, it only seems right that they would be included in the dialogue. So, I decided to interview her to learn more about her work and to share her story. This is what we discussed:

Natalie: "So who exactly is your target audience?"

Constanze: "Our books are written for parents of 7 to 12 year old children. At this age kids are old enough to understand what is going on in the world and are eager to make a difference. We help parents with their efforts of raising global citizens by providing content that supports meaningful family conversations."

Natalie: "That seems like an awesome and important endeavor! What is the message you are trying to send?"

Constanze: "We want children to understand that everything in the world is interrelated and that everything they do or don't do has an impact on people and planet. And we want families to know that no child is too young to make a difference. We as parents need to give them that confidence early on."

Natalie: "How do you tell the scary story of the climate crisis to young children, without devastating them but still educating them?"

Constanze: "Two very important concepts in raising children are empowerment and reassurance. We want to empower our children to stand up for themselves, believe in their abilities, and make their own decisions. And we want to reassure them about a safe and happy life. I believe that a non-frightening explanation of the causes and the impacts of climate change, together with ideas about how to make a difference, is empowering and reassuring to our kids because we take them seriously and show them how to help. Adding examples that prove that change is possible, like the case of the Ozone hole, motivate children(and adults) even more to help save the planet.

My instinct also tells me to shield my children from all bad news. However the experience with my kids has shown, that if I choose an age appropriate language as well as an amount of information they can process, and if I show them that there are ways to improve a situation, it is much better to discuss a serious topic than to keep quiet. As Mr. Rogers always said "Look for the helpers".

Read the full interview here