Nurture the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors  With These 8 Tips 

Nurture the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors  With These 8 Tips
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nurture the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors  With These 8 Tips. Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nurture the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors  With These 8 Tips

Mother Earth needs her children’s help — today and tomorrow. Environmental consciousness starts young, and nurturing the next generation of eco-warriors is among the best things a parent can do. 

The question is, how? Research gives some insight, and heartfelt parenting fills in the remaining blanks. Here’s how to raise your child to love and respect Mother Earth and further sustainability through their decisions, words and actions.  

Eco-Warriors Start Young — What the Research Shows

Research suggests that children’s exposure to nature encourages greater pro-environmental behavior. A recent meta-analysis examined the impact of multiple influences on eco-friendly attitudes and behaviors in youth, such as the proximity of green spaces, education and prevailing societal mores. 

The results of multiple studies suggested that exposure to nature had a significant impact on pro-environmental behaviors. Spending time in the great outdoors as a child fosters an emotional attachment to the natural world that creates a reverence for the Earth and inspires care for it. The takeaway — if you want to raise the next generation of eco-warriors, get your kids outside.

Spending More Time Outdoors Is Good for the Planet and Your Child

Fortunately, spending more time in nature isn’t only good for the planet’s future — it also benefits your mental health. One study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that a 15-minute walk in the woods restored participants psychologically. Those who spend time in nature report lower depression rates, a greater sense of calm and vitality, increased energy and less stress. 

Being outdoors also has physical health perks for your child. It encourages running, skipping and climbing, which aid in musculoskeletal development. Being in a forest environment lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can impact brain and heart health. 

8 Tips to Nurture the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors

Nurturing the next generation of eco-warriors requires devoted parents who spend time with their children and get them moving in the great outdoors. Here are eight ways to cultivate a sense of sustainability in your little ones. 

1. Hike

You’re never too young to hike when you have the right infant carrier. Getting into this routine can help you regain strength if you became more sedentary during pregnancy while jump-starting your child’s introduction to the natural world. Before long — perhaps before you want it to happen — your little one will clamor to get down and test their wee legs. 

Following safety rules increases your sense of security on the trail, especially if you hike alone with your children. Instilling these tips in your child decreases your fears when they’re ready to head out solo. Keep the following in mind:

  • Tell someone back home where you are going and plan to return. 
  • Stick to easy, well-traversed trails and stay well within your physical limits. Remember that your child will tire more quickly. 
  • Carry a communication device like a cellphone, although a satellite GPS may be more appropriate in areas with limited coverage, like some national parks. 
  • Hike with a group for safety in numbers, and wear a bear bell to warn unsuspecting critters of your presence. 

2. Go Camping 

Camping is more than an affordable vacation. It’s an opportunity to practice forest bathing and nurture the budding eco-warrior in your child. 

Let your little one assist with age-appropriate tasks. For example, they can gather firewood or locate a sturdy tree branch to hang your food out of the reach of bears. 

Plan some fun on your outing. Go canoeing or fishing, study native flora using an app, or start a bird journal with sketches and pictures of species your child identifies. Practice useful survival skills like building a fire or a simple debris structure. 

3. Choose the Right Summer Camp

Sending kids to summer camp has long been a popular way to introduce them to nature. The right experience nurtures environmental consciousness in your child. 

For example, STEAM camps combine the math and science aspects of STEM with art and the humanities. Your child may learn how dams and hydropower work in the morning and put on a skit about water conservation in the afternoon, fostering the emotional connection that drives pro-environmental behaviors and while teaching skills associated with sustainability careers.

4. Garden

Planting and maintaining a garden introduces your child to nature’s life cycle while teaching them a valuable skill. It also fosters appreciation, as producing food isn’t easy — perhaps decreasing dinner table battles. 

If you don’t have a yard, master the art of container gardening. Pick up some pots for free by checking neighborhood sites like Nextdoor or watching for curb alerts. Repurposing common containers also works. For example, an egg carton makes an excellent seedling starter, especially with a bit of the shell for added nutrients. 

5. Volunteer 

Volunteering to help with various environmental causes could be the best way to nurture the budding eco-warrior in your child. That’s because performing good deeds triggers certain neurological changes that reinforce the behavior while improving your child’s overall mental health. 

Participate in your town’s tree planting ceremony or community cleanup. What if there are no such events near you? There’s no law against picking up a grabber and a trash bag and heading to your nearest park to pick up litter. Your behavior may inspire your neighbors, helping your child make friends while beautifying your neighborhood one piece of trash at a time. 

6. Encourage Eco-Learning 

Education also influences pro-environmental behaviors in youth. Encouraging eco-learning includes trips to museums and science centers to learn about the natural world. It can entail filling their bedtime story bookshelves with books that share environmentally friendly messages. Is it time for the annual science fair? Consider suggesting a project such as how to make a simple saltwater battery to encourage research into better energy storage solutions. 

7. Praise Their Eco-Friendly Efforts 

Most children want to do the right thing — but they require tons of validation to maintain their positive habits. They’ll grow discouraged if they sense that no one notices or cares about their efforts. 

Therefore, make a fuss when your child recycles or composts instead of tossing each item in the trash by default. Rather than scolding them for forgetting to turn off the light, reward them with a small treat or effusive praise when they remember to reinforce the eco-friendly behavior. 

8. Set an Example 

Your child imitates what you do far more than what you say. They’re more likely to take their refillable cup to the coffee shop instead of opting for plastic if they see you engaging in this behavior. 

Therefore, set a good example by showing your child your eco-warrior side. Look for small, teachable moments. For instance, calmly explain why you rearrange the dishwasher to fit as much as possible instead of shaming your child for loading it incorrectly. The latter inspires rebellion or resistance, whereas the former promotes agency — doing it right is a small opportunity to make a difference. 

Nurturing Eco-Warriors 

Mother Earth needs the help of a new generation of eco-warriors to continue the fight against climate change. Inspiring your kid with a love of nature from a young age encourages pro-environmental behaviors. 

Focus on nurturing the budding eco-warrior in your child. A clean, healthy planet requires the cooperation of all her creatures, especially humans, no matter how little they are.

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