Whether it's a much-loved local park about to be bulldozed, or a species of whale about to be wiped out it's always inspiring to hear your child ask "What can we do about it, Mum?" Caring about these issues means that your child is starting to discover the world around him/her - and better still, beginning to feel that their actions can really make a difference.
Kids often have a very highly developed sense of right and wrong, and it's important to acknowledge their efforts to protest what they see as injustices. Better still, by helping them engage with environmental causes, you can help children develop skills which will mean the world to them whatever they decide to do later on in life.
Write a Letter
In these days of emails, blogs and texts, does a letter really get noticed? Research says that it does. In fact, some organisations have claimed that they're likely to take a well-thought out letter more seriously than a hastily tossed off email.
Talk to your child about how best to put their case on paper. Then work through a couple of rough drafts before writing the letter up 'in best' handwriting. Learning the art of letter writing helps children communicate more clearly and persuasively with the outside world and will put them in good stead later on when it’s time for them to start sending off CVs and job applications.
From a local environmental charity to a band of volunteers, participating with campaigning groups is a fantastic way for children to learn organisational skills, and to find out how they can change the world around them. Obviously not all groups are ‘kid-friendly’, but a quick look at a relevant website should show you what groups your children are safe to join.
Raise Cash for a Good Cause
If your children are worried about the homeless, or determined to help the starving children they see on TV appeals, raising cash for a good cause can help them feel they are doing their bit. Often good causes like Comic Relief mop up a lot of charitable effort – so maybe choose a smaller cause that is closer to your child’s heart. Brainstorm some activities your child could take part in, the more creative the better. Cake sales are a lovely (and tasty) way to raise funds, but try and think beyond the box for some innovative ideas. Of course, if your child really doesn’t need any help with their ‘communication skills’ a sponsored silence can be a good bet!
Teach Them to Network
Whether you’re raising money, or awareness, supervised online social networking can teach a child all kinds of skills from communication to perseverance. Campaign groups often have networking groups children can join to discuss issues. As with most aspects of the Internet supervision is vital, so be sure your child is talking to the right kind of people.
Getting involved in any kind of campaigning can be fantastic for most children’s confidence. However, it can also bring up some very difficult issues. Failure can be hard to take, and kids can start to feel guilty that they’re not doing enough for the planet. For parents, dealing with these kind of questions isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Independent children with enquiring minds may have to work out their own opinions and beliefs, yet it’s up to parents to provide them with the moral compass required to navigate safely through to adult life.