Raising Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders: 14 Tips for Parents
Updated: July 12th, 2021
Raising Tomorrow’s Leaders
Protecting and preserving the natural world calls for action from everyone, especially young people. Only when kids take the lead on stewardship can we sustain our natural resources for the future.
Kids don’t grow into environmental leaders all on their own, however. It’s up to parents to instill the values and skills youth need to take environmental issues into their own hands.
If you want to raise a child who fights for a greener future, here’s what you need to know.
What are the traits of an environmental leader?
Whether they’re in a C-suite or on the forefront of conservation, leaders need certain character traits in order to see a problem and decide to solve it. From a young age, foster these leadership traits in your kids.
If you want to raise a child who is honest and has strong values, make integrity a priority in your household. Emphasize the importance of sticking to your word and staying true to your values.
No one has to be perfect, but it is important to strive for self-improvement. Teach kids how to track results and problem solve when obstacles stand in their way. Model self-improvement by always looking for ways to learn and advance in your own life (e.g., learning a new hobby or completing your master’s).
If it seems like people naturally gravitate towards leaders, it’s because of openness, or being generous and accessible to others. Encourage openness by teaching children to be kind and empathetic.
Last but not least, parents should teach kids to be courageous. Being a leader means going where others haven’t gone before. In order to do that, children must be taught how to take calculated risks.
Raising kids who care about the planet
In addition to instilling leadership skills, parents must be mindful of what they teach kids ‑ directly or indirectly ‑ about nature. These parenting strategies help you raise future environmental stewards.
Get kids outside
The more connected to nature we feel, the more motivated we are to conserve it. Incorporate nature-based activities like hiking, bird watching, stargazing, and visiting natural spaces into children’s lives.
Talk about environmental issues
From ways to reduce your carbon footprint to the science of climate change, talking about environmental issues increases kids’ awareness of sustainability and conservation.
Include kids in the conversation
Looking for ways to be more sustainable at home? Ask kids for their input on how your family can become more eco-friendly. Parents should also get kids involved in community events like trash clean-up days.
The importance of emotional intelligence for leaders
Emotional intelligence is linked to better outcomes in relationships, health, and quality of life. It’s also the key to communicating persuasively about topics like conservation or climate change. But while we tend to think of emotional intelligence as an innate trait, it’s actually a combination of skills like these.
Self-aware kids understand their strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge for self-improvement. Teach children how to label emotions and encourage them to talk about their feelings.
Kids who self-regulate manage their emotions to avoid outbursts and impulsive behavior. Daily routines and healthy coping strategies help children develop the ability to self-regulate.
Empathy is key to connecting with others and working as a team. Practice active listening and talk about the perspective of other people to foster empathy.
Effective leaders have strong social skills that help them communicate and find common ground with others. Discuss expectations in social settings and teach children how to use body language to understand what others are feeling.
The must-have communication skills for kids
True change requires more than one motivated individual ‑ it requires the support of the community. That’s why public speaking and communication skills are so important for leaders, even young ones.
Better communication starts with better listening. Teach kids to listen to what others say rather than simply waiting for their turn to speak.
The way you speak to your best friends may not be the best way to speak to your boss. Explain the importance of adapting communication style to your audience in order to be more persuasive.
Storytelling is one of the best ways to inspire others to take action. Kids pick up storytelling skills from other enthusiastic storytellers like parents and librarians. Parents should also encourage kids to tell their own stories.
It’s important to raise kids who understand the role they play in sustainability and conservation. However, a love of nature isn’t enough to turn youth into environmental leaders. To raise kids who care for the planet and inspire others to do the same, make sure you’re fostering the skills young people need to lead.
Story by Karyn Winrich.
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