Storms such as Sandy can make all of us feel unsure, and this can affect children even more so. Creating activities that our children can do, give us a regular avenue to be able to discuss the issues of climate change, extreme weather or natural disasters calmly and quietly. Involve your children in household recycling chores in order to empower them and allow them to feel like they are contributing to a solution.
Tactile children will love being able to stomp on boxes to get them ready for recycling, collect the bottles to make an interesting pile, and help carry out the indoor recycling box to the sidewalk. They will love being in charge, and will enthusiastically tell you when you forgot and put that water bottle in with the trash, usually by fishing it out themselves. They will throw themselves into the activity so be warned to have a quick look before it goes out for good to make sure more than you wanted isn’t recycled too.
Visual children will appreciate the order of recycling, especially if you have specific bins with lids for each specific category. They will not like to help if it isn’t tidy and organized, or if it requires them tripping over items to get to the bin. They will take great pleasure in organizing the paper, and you will find that on recycling day, the paper will be stacked according to size and color, neatly tied and ready to out.
Auditory children will recycle at convenience so make sure that your bins are placed in a convenient place. They will likely forget at first, so it’s important to remember to remind gently and praise loudly. They will appreciate the organization of recycling but can get a bit carried away with categories to recycle under. Three is fine, but 10 extreme. Expect a bit of noise when they help to take out the bins, as all those empty bottles and bins make great percussion instruments that are very hard to pass up, but hey, if it makes it more fun to recycle then what’s the harm.
Taste and smell children won’t like recycling as it is mess and can smell if not cleaned properly. To encourage them explain the impact on animals and our water on air, and that every little bit helps to make the earth cleaner for all the animals and our family and friends. Stories about fish being caught in drink holders, or dolphins having hooks in them may be upsetting but it shows that if we don’t take responsibility for our trash it can impact a living thing a long way away.
While recycling is only one way to help your child feel more in control in a changing environmental world, it can make a difference, by bringing your children into the activity when young, you will enable you to discuss how recycling helps reduce the families “footprint” or mark left behind on the Earth and help alleviate some of the effects associated with climate change.
Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language, is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.