Our world is fast depleting its resources. Statistics show that some of our most essential resources like drinking water will be depleted in less than fifty years if we continue living the way we do! We are living in a self obsessed culture, where life is all about me. We are so caught up with accumulating wealth, possessions, comfort and happiness for ourselves, that we very rarely think of others and the consequences of our actions on someone else, especially if we cannot see the direct consequence in front of our eyes. If we live in a world like this, how much more will our children’s generation be.
But if we recognize this and take conscious steps to start thinking about others rather than ourselves, our children will begin to pick it up.
Here are some practical ways through which you can help your children think beyond themselves and teach them how to care about the environment and become responsible human beings.
- Teach your children about the environment and sustainability
Nowadays we’ve got the world at our fingertips because of the internet. So even if they can’t literally see it in front of their eyes, you can read articles to them, show them videos of hungry children and people living in drought conditions and these images will have a powerful effect on their minds and will be something that they remember. Don’t try and protect your children from the harsh reality of the world around them. Rather teach them how to respond to these situations and how their actions can make a huge difference if they want.
- Help your children consume less
This is something I personally struggle with, but am trying to change. As parents, we want to give our children the best. And with the amount of advertisements convincing us that ‘if our child doesn’t have this educational toy at this stage of their life, their brain growth will be hampered for life’ we are constantly buying things for our children and then its no surprise when our children go to shops and start demanding things for themselves, because they’ve seen us doing it. We need to stop buying things! Maybe start a fund for a poor school or a poor child and every time your child doesn’t buy something when you normally would buy it, put the money into the fund. When it reaches a certain amount, give it to an organization and ask them to send you a picture of some difference it has made. A visual like that for your child can be a very powerful motivator to sacrifice simple pleasures for a life changing difference to someone less fortunate.
- Teach them to save water and electricity
These are simple things that they can do which will go a long way. Its so easy for a parent of a pre-schooler to just go into the room after they have left and put off the fan themselves, but if you teach them and keep reminding them to do it, it will help develop these good habits right through life. When you talk to them about saving water, ask them to think of ways how they can save water. My son came up with the idea of having a bucket bath instead of a shower to save water. He used to love standing under the shower and letting the water flow. But he figured that if he used the bucket he would save a lot of water.
- Stress on the importance of not wasting food
Since a lot of us parents have grown up in a time where food was plenty and not too hard to come by, our children are even more privileged and we don’t really mind throwing the extra food that they don’t eat, into the dustbin. This time when we went to my mum’s house for the holidays, she came up with an innovative idea. She told the kids that every time they finish every grain on their plate, she would put 10 rupees into a box. At the end of the holidays, she would use that money to buy a special snack for a poor school in North India. The plan worked wonderfully, and continues to work till today. My children have learnt to wipe their plates clean!
- Model it yourself
The last, but most important one. If your children don’t see you doing it, how ever much you tell them to do something, they will not be able to sustain it because they are not convinced about it. You can talk about saving the environment, show them videos, motivate them with rewards, but if they see you leaving the lights on, or wasting your food, or having long baths or constantly buying things from amazon and getting bigger TVs and better cars, they will pick up those attitudes and habits. As the famous saying goes, more is caught than taught!