Seeds Of Hope: How To Talk To Kids About Climate Change

Navigating conversations about climate change with children is a delicate balancing act. We’ve gathered seven tips to help parents and mentors plant seeds of hope this Earth Day.


They hear the TV broadcast the climate’s tipping points and watch as a gray cloud of smoke covers their city—and out come those masks again. Out goes their spring plans for the day.

They marvel at videos floating through coral and soaring over canopies only to learn of disappearing forests and dying reefs in the same breath.

They watch polar bears stranded on blocks of ice, their once-secure and icy home melting into the ocean to later erode shorelines. They wonder if they will ever see that tiny coastal town again, the one with the really good ice cream. Or will it, too, be consumed by the sea?

They know to shut the water off as they brush their teeth and turn off the lights when they leave the room.

At six, seven, eight years old, they may already wonder, “Is any of it enough?”

Eco-anxiety is high among young people.

At least 84% of young people are moderately worried about climate change, and 59% are extremely worried, according to a study from 10 countries around the world.

Studies on young children are lacking, but it is reasonable to assume they are aware of the climate crisis and—on some level—feel the pressure of a warming world and futures stocked with uncertainty.

It would be a mistake to assume children are blissfully unaware of a changing planet.

Perhaps the greater mistake is to rob children of their right to express their concerns, grieve what has been lost, and ultimately return to a place of empowerment, imagination, and hope.

It’s undeniable—climate change is now changing the course of daily lives—and that includes the lives of children. As parents and mentors, how should you navigate difficult conversations about the climate emergency? It’s a delicate balance.

GlobalGiving, a nonprofit that makes it easy to support local change anywhere in the world, has rounded up seven tips for navigating conversations about climate change this Earth Day.

1. Create space for meaningful conversation.

Many professionals have created resources to guide meaningful conversations with children about climate change and action. These tips often center around honesty, listening, asking before telling, and creating spaces to grieve and process what has been lost.

2. Know the facts, but resist despair.

It’s important to be informed when it comes to the mass destruction of our planet. At the same time, information overload and excessive “doom-scrolling” can wreak havoc on nervous systems and leave exhausted parents caught in heavy cycles of dread that often stunts meaningful action.

“Despair is paralysis. It robs us of agency. It blinds us to our own power and the power of the Earth.” — Robin Wall Kimmerrer, “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Once you’ve had the honest and potentially painful conversations with your kids about the climate crisis, the time to invite in the energy of empowerment, hope, and creative climate solutions is ripe.

3. Explore the art of place-based play.

Carving out space for your child to connect with the ecosystem around them will help them feel more rooted in their life, body, and local ecology. Many studies show that unstructured playtime in nature contributes to lowered stress hormones. Returning to the present helps children see the beauty and wonder yet to be discovered in the critters in your backyard or the towering trees at a park.

4. Plant seeds of hope—literally and figuratively!

Planting seeds is a beautiful way to explore the concept of “seeds of hope” with your child.

The best climate solutions often arrive from humble origins, much like the tiny seed enclosed in a paper packet from a local seed saver or flower store. You plant them into the soil, not knowing exactly how (or if) they will bloom. They require patience and time to grow, much like good climate solutions.

Even if the seeds don’t come to fruition, you receive the opportunity to model resilience and connect your project back to bigger conversations about climate action. Together, you can get curious about why the seeds didn’t come to life. Did they lack the proper sun, warmth, moisture, or rich soil needed for germination?

Just like seeds need the right conditions to bloom, local climate solutions also require time, care, and funding to become effective agents for change. Not every seed will work for every ecosystem, just like not every climate solution will work for every community.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to water what is already thriving in your ecosystem.

You can do this by giving time or money to local organizations near you. Check out GlobalGiving’s nonprofit database to search for projects in your city, state, or country.

5. Craft to soothe loops of uncertainty.

Children are constantly witnessing the opening of huge planetary problems and seldom receive anything resembling a definitive conclusion. Solutions are varied and no one-size-fits all will work in the face of the climate crisis, which is frustrating and stressful for all of us, but especially for children.

While you may not be able to resolve any world issue, you can create spaces for your child to work with their hands, to begin and complete a meaningful task, and to ultimately connect that task with larger conversations about climate action when the moment is right.

Neuroscientist Dr. Kelly Lambert shares that doing actions that produce a result you can see, feel, and touch changes the physiology and chemical makeup of the effort-driven rewards circuit. “You begin to feel more control over your environment and more connected to the world around you,” she said in her book.

You can seek inspiration from community-led nonprofits like A Plus P who weave art, psychology, and neuroscience to strengthen the resiliency, confidence, self-expression, and teamwork skills of children experiencing challenging circumstances in Mexico City.

6. Follow their interests—from the soil to the streams!

As you have conversations with your kids about climate action and explore creative ways to spark climate optimism, what draws their attention?

Did their eyes light up when they learned how the minerals in the soil and our bodies originally came from space? Did they have a reaction to the subsequent truth that soil around the world is losing its minerals and nutrients due to human-caused degradation?

Or maybe their love lies in the water, and their frustration with the trash polluting their favorite stream. You could adopt a river or volunteer your time at local river clean-ups.

Perhaps your youngster would rather be up in the trees or is often found doodling pines when given a pencil, paper, and the calmness of a few minutes. Maybe they have a love of all that flies, or all that sprouts and roots.

Knowing which ecosystems, places, and causes spark their interest can open up a world of possibilities for climate action that aligns with their deepest passions and interests.

7. Expand their interests in global climate action.

When you feel like your child’s nervous system is ready and empowered enough to take the conversation more globally, we have one final creative idea to inspire climate optimism with your kiddo:

Help your child discover an ecosystem-preserving nonprofit using the GlobalGiving Explore Page. After making a donation, you and your child can enjoy reading regular updates from environmental stewards of all backgrounds, ages, and nationalities about how your money is being put to use!

From soil-savers and wildlife rescue teams to green-energy engineers, GlobalGiving is bound to have a project that helps your kiddo connect to something bigger and share some of their contagious climate optimism with communities who need it the most.

Plant seeds of climate hope with a donation to local stewards healing land and people.


Featured Photo: Instituto Sinal do Vale by GlobalGiving

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