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Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sustainability

Do you feel like environmental sustainability is ONE more thing that you’re not doing?

You know the guilt.

You want to save the planet.

You want to teach your kids to do the same.

But, how in the world do you fit that in your normal family life?

Shannon Brescher Shea is the author of the environmental parenting advice book, Growing Sustainable Together: Practical Resources to Raise Kind, Engaged, Resilient Children.  Through her book and blog, We’ll Eat You Up, We Love you So she offers practical advice on green living while not shying away from utter failures.  Shannon lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her family. 

Involve your kids in everyday activities

Shannon helps her kids feel empowered by giving them responsibilities around the house.  The things we do are not just about us.  They are about our family, the larger world and community. 

Shannon uses gardening as one way to teach this.  She shovels dirt and involves her kids in planting right alongside her. 

READ: Get Kids to do Chores: 5 Ways to Respond When They Don’t Want To

With gardening, she also teaches important lessons like caretaking.  If a plant dies, it’s dead.  There’s no bringing it back.  All you can do is think about what you can do next time.  Her kids see real consequences for their actions. 

Walk, Bike, Get Out of the House

You never realize what needs fixing or improvement in your community until you get out in it.  

For example, when you try to walk somewhere, but you don’t have sidewalks, it’s a great way of seeing what needs change.  How can you change that?  

Through activism.  You can write a letter to the city council and ask them to build more sidewalks. 

Teach independence with your kids through “doing”

For instance, when you take the time to walk the extra mile to the store, it can also be a mini-lesson in independence.

As you walk, say to your kids “Hey, if I see you doing this safely.  You can do this on your own.” 

Perhaps it’s walking a mile to the town square to meet up with friends and get ice cream.  Maybe it’s going to the grocery store.   Or even, taking the city bus to dance lessons. 

READ: What to Do When Your Kid’s Behavior Makes You Feel Like a Failure

Do chores with your child – until they can take it over

Kids can take over chores that are seemingly above their ability when parents do chores WITH their kids.   

Shannon cleans bathrooms with her four-year-old.  He can’t do it on his own yet, but he does know how to clean a toilet.

Plus, it increases the interdependence within your family.  The fact that you can rely on others and you have a support system.  

Kids don’t feel like they’re alone in the chore process. 

READ: How to get family to help around the house (when they’ve been doing nothing)

Yes, there are scary things.  But they’re so small.

Shannon emphasizes that yes, there are scary things.  But most have a risk that’s so small and are unlikely to happen.

We need to be aware of the things that are a lot less catastrophic, but more likely to happen.

Encourage the lack of fear that kids have about nature

When kids are afraid of nature, it’s because adults have taught them. 

Kids should be encouraged to explore nature and put their nose in trees and run around.  They need a chance to test their bodies, run, fall, and learn.

READ: How to Build Grit in Kids: When to Push and When to Comfort

Instead of the blame game…

Teach kids so that they can bear equal responsibility. It’s so easy to look at something that went wrong and immediately shake your finger and blame. But teaching kids to take responsibility for their part and problem solve a solution are huge life skills! Here is a great post she shared about this.

Resources We Shared:

The DOT Student planning System

We’ll Eat You Up, We Love you So 

Growing Sustainable Together: Practical Resources to Raise Kind, Engaged, Resilient Children

Download the Transcript here

The best mom is a happy mom.  To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here .  These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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