How to talk to your kids about climate anxiety, according to an environmental educator – CBS News

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In recent weeks, flooding has put parts of Texas, Minnesota and Florida underwater, wildfires have ravaged California, and Hurricane Beryl has brought winds, rain and destruction to the Caribbean — just a few examples of the kinds of natural disasters being made more damaging or more frequent by climate change.
The visible effects of climate change are stoking concern among America’s youth. A 2021 study found that 59% of teens and young adults were very or extremely worried about the impact of climate change.
Experts say “climate anxiety” — that feeling of doom and gloom about the future of humanity and our planet — can manifest through intrusive thoughts or feelings of distress about the future and lead to disruptions in daily life.
Parents who want to quell kids’ nerves, said Elizabeth Bagley, the managing director at Project Drawdown and a mom of two, can start by listening. 
The environmental educator told CBS News that parents to take the time to listen to their kids’ concerns, especially as many of the things coming at them can be scary or confusing. This can help parents really become that “trusted adult” in their kids’ lives and a source of reassurance.
Listening can also be a good way to build bridges with people who might hold different opinions on climate change or challenge its validity, Bagley said.”Maybe someone says they don’t believe in climate change, but they really believe in protecting the lands that they rely on for hunting and fishing and many other things,” she said. “So can we find some common values and some common ground to move forward on and put the solutions into place.”
To keep kids motivated to take action,  especially when they may not immediately see the fruits of their labor, Bagley encouraged parents to teach them about the systems that make up our daily lives and how they can advocate for change within those systems.
She offered the example of working towards safer bike lanes in Sitka, Alaska, where she and her family reside. “If we have safer bike lanes in our community, then it’s more likely that folks are going to feel safer biking and potentially get out of cars, get onto bikes, get healthier and maybe even have my kids start a bike bus to school.” 
While the topic of climate change can be daunting, the conversations don’t have to revolve around the problem, as they often do when it comes to climate change. Instead, Bagley said, they should focus on the solutions and actions people are taking to tackle the issue.
When it comes to her own kids, Bagley said she keeps this solution-oriented approach in mind by telling them that they have the power to influence what happens in their lives and in their communities.
“One of the things that I like to remind my sons is that we are the people lucky enough to be alive at this moment in time, and so we get to write the next chapter of life on Earth,” she said. “So what are we going to do?”
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