Climate Action

A 5 Step Guide to Addressing Climate Change with Kids

Picture this: You’re standing at the front of your classroom, met by 25 pairs of eager eyes. The energy in the room is palpable, buzzing off the walls. You have 25 minds before you, ready to absorb and poised for action. Today is not about who left gum under the chair, didn’t hand their math homework in on time or who erased the morning message — it’s about something far more consequential. It’s a conversation with the power to make most adults plug their ears and feel a knot pulsing in their stomach. Today’s topic: climate change. 

Children face both the mental impact and physical consequences of climate change, and their vulnerability is evident. Climate anxiety is a reality that many of us, across the world, are having to manage. As adults grapple with the climate crisis, it raises the question: How are children coping? The reality is many children are terrified. Instead of enjoying the simple pleasures of life  – playing outside, riding bikes, and yes let’s be honest, gaming on-line with their friends,they find themselves navigating a mental minefield. Their world seems to be unraveling right in front of them before they’ve even had a chance to fully experience it. 

We cannot leave children to process their feelings alone. It is crucial to provide a safe space where they can learn to cope, problem solve, and build resiliency. Here are 5 steps to guide conversations with children about climate change: 

Listening is a skill requiring practice. It serves as the foundation for conflict resolution and problem solving. By employing the 3 C’s — Courage, Compassion, and Connection — we can enhance our communication.


Children especially require a safe space, a listening ear, and a genuine connection. It takes courage for students to broach tricky subjects, particularly when those issues extend beyond the school environment..

One of the single most important things that adults can do, to help children process their feelings, is validate them: by providing a safe space to talk we are showing children that we not only understand their concerns but we acknowledge that these concerns are real. This shows true compassion and coupled with active listening, allowing ample time for children to express themselves, brings true connection. 


How should we respond when children ask questions or tell stories about climate change? It’s crucial to normalize feelings of discomfort. Even acknowledging our own concerns can be helpful. We should create opportunities for ongoing discussions about climate change, whether through meetings or by providing space for expressing feelings, such as through journaling. The way we respond can either keep the conversation open or shut it down, so it is important to maintain an open dialogue. To foster this open dialogue, consider using phrases like:

  • “I can see how that can make you feel (insert feeling word).” 
  • “That is a good observation, I can see that too.”
  • “That is a normal feeling to have, sometimes I feel that way too.”

Learn Together

We have the tools to navigate this learning journey. Living in the age of technology provides us with a wealth of resources to understand climate change and understanding something always helps mitigate our fear of it. 

Teachers and parents can use activities and learning exercises to share information,—about climate change, why and where it is happening and the impacts of it on different countries and communities. . Explore science, venture outdoors for personal observations, talk to our elders, delve into documentaries and even movies, read books and articles together. Discover ways to engage in conversations about climate with children. Unpacking the facts will help us all talk about it more freely. 


Action is the final key when discussing climate change. Being an active learner helps us feel confident, while simultaneously providing a sense of autonomy and identity. Students with ownership over their learning are more willing to have a positive sense of autonomy. This knowledge can empower real hands on actions -start with small steps that help children feel in control. For example, taking part in community wide trash clean ups, making recycled trash art projects, going to parks and museums, being a part of a club or school group dedicated to learning about climate change or planting a tree are great ways for students to develop a sense of self while learning how to deal with their climate anxiety. 

Look for free resources on-line where possible. As they grow older and younger children become teenagers, they may want to become more active by joining environmental campaigns and advocating for the planet, signing petitions or writing their own articles on the subject for their school newspaper. 

Grow and Grow Some More

Demonstrating vulnerability is crucial. It’s essential to openly admit to children of all ages when you don’t know something and emphasize you’re learning alongside them. Curiosity, empathy, and understanding are fostered through explicit teaching and there needs to be opportunities to continue to grow. We cannot expect students to fully comprehend every detail of climate change, and there is no reason why they should. Adults engage in learning everyday, constantly adapting their actions to change, so it is imperative for us to model the same for our students and our children.

Climate change is not going to vanish into thin air. It’s here and it’s not disappearing anytime soon. Instead of strapping in and hoping for the best, teachers and parents need to prepare children for a changing world.