by Erin Hanehan, kids yoga & mindfulness instructor and longtime Tiny Earth Toys customer
Talking to toddlers about complicated topics is…well, complicated, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from starting important conversations early. The more you practice having difficult conversations with your children now, the easier it will be when their questions become more…well, complicated!
This month, Earth Month, I have been considering how to talk to my toddler about our relationship with the planet. And while it is not an easy time to talk about the health of the Earth, it is a really important time to raise children who understand their impact on our environment.
I know my child will be growing and living through some level of climate crisis. This is why I've decided to focus on helping my toddler develop the "emotional toolbox" he will need to thrive during these unpredictable times."
The Climate Change Emotional Toolbox for Toddlers:
- Compassion & Empathy
- Hope & Curiosity
- Resilience & Connection
The best way to begin talking to your toddler about climate change is to integrate that discussion into story time & play time, and to center the conversation around guiding questions that are thoughtful & age appropriate.
A few guiding questions that point back to the emotional toolbox outlined above include:
- How do you feel when something unexpected happens?
- What makes you feel safe?
- What can we do to make ourselves feel calm even when unexpected things happen?
These are likely questions that your toddler is already considering! And I’m sure your child will have creative, insightful & unique answers. I will offer that both breath & movement are ways to find calm even when unexpected things happen.
Here are 2 activities to incorporate into your play time & 3 books that will foster the “toolkit” outlined above:
Wind Breath: Form your mouth into an “O” shape. Take a deep breath in. Your breath will feel cool as it passes your teeth & tongue! Exhale while gently moving your head from side to side - imagine that you are the wind! Are you blowing the clouds across the sky? Are you moving the leaves in the trees?
Tree Pose: Stand tall with your feet together or hip-distance apart. Can you bend one knee in toward your chest? Can you catch that knee with your hands? Switch sides and find your balance by gazing gently at something on the ground or in front of you. Now bring one of your big toes to the inside of the opposite foot. Slowly slide your big toe up your ankle & your shin. Pause to find your balance. Maybe your big toe keeps sliding past your knee! Imagine you are a tree with strong roots in the ground! Bring your arms out to the side or up above your head - they are your branches! Practice wind breath in tree pose & blow in the breeze!
Books to Read with Your Toddler:
A Kids Book About Climate Change (for ages 5+) - I find the books from A Kids Co. to be incredibly helpful. Although they are not all age appropriate for my toddler, they give me language for talking about complicated topics with him. And they feel like an investment that will remain in our at home library for a long time.
Elizabeth Bechard - Elizabeth is a coach who works with parents & future parents who are worried about climate change. She has written the book Parenting in a Changing Climate and offers free resources through her online newsletter.
Erin Hanehan is a kids yoga & mindfulness instructor, a perinatal yoga teacher, a drama teaching artist, a freelance marketing professional and a mother. Erin is passionate about enabling children to stand tall, feel confident in their body and find their own unique voice. She teaches Baby & Me Yoga and Toddler & Me Yoga weekly at the JCC in Durham. Erin also teaches a weekly online class called Embodied Mothering Yoga. She is a member of the Whole Mama Yoga Collective, which you can learn more about at www.wholemamayoga.com. You can learn more about Erin’s journey in motherhood and her current class offerings by following @ehanehan on Instagram and/or visiting: https://linktr.ee/ehanehan.