Raise them right: Sustainable habits for Gen-Alpha

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb.

I bet we can refresh our Facebook and see someone just had a baby. It’s true, us millennials are becoming parents and most of these babies will be categorised as Gen-Alpha. Gen-Alpha are children born between 2010 and 2025. Even though the best accolade we have given them is tech savvy, there are plenty of research reports that show so much more. These guys might just save the planet.

They are the first generation that are being born into a quickly deteriorating planet due to inaction against climate change. A 2019 report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce found that 67% of 6 to 9 year olds say that saving the planet will be the central mission of their careers in the future, joining the fight that current Gen Zs are leading. If you have wondered about the effects of having parents who witnessed a recession, a pandemic and a lot of war, it’s not all grim. The report further states that they are uniquely ethically inclined and value-led.

Now having acknowledged all their great qualities all parents/ god-parents/ step parents/ parent figures have a task at hand. They must find a way to make their child/ren aware of what is happening in the world, without scaring them or giving them anxiety. This blog explores some great parenting ideas if you are raising a Gen-Alpha.

Do not scare them: Have an honest conversation with them about the problem we are facing backed by scientific evidence. Assure them we are all in this together and in the past humanity has surprised itself by coming back from wars, pandemics and rapid climatic shifts. Answer their questions and instil the idea of ‘there is no small act’.

Outdoor activities: If you can take your children to forests, beaches and river beds – great, there’s nothing like it. If not, explore local parks, aquariums, zoo’s, nurseries, or just groves – whatever patch of green you can get a hold of. Let them wander, explore on their own to find a tree giving shade or being home to a squirrel.

Gardening and Composting – The joy of growing something and watching it bloom or fruit is very accomplishing and puts in touch with nurture and love for nature. Living in smaller spaces may not be ideal conditions for composting. But having a small balcony garden with a plant or two is enough to introduce the idea to the child.

Reuse, Recycle – A lot of things we dispose might be worthy of a second run if we give it some TLC. Learning simple skills to put a fresh coat of paint, tightening a nut or bolt might be very handy. Treat hand-me-downs as family heirlooms, and there is no shame is re-purposing, this will help children to not associate worth with materialistic things.

Get your hands dirty with crafting – It is important that your child see it is possible to make things from the scratch at home with their hands. Take up pet projects with them to make stuffed toys from old jumpers and some buttons. If you are not so crafty parent stick some pistachio shells around a picture. It’s not about how good it turns out to be, rather how ingenious and resourceful one can be.

Smart purchasing – Let children made feel they are part of decission making. Give them assistant duties like bringing a cloth tote bag, choosing between what is necessary, needed and wasteful, or eliminating products that have wasteful packaging. This might be a long term project but, most children will grow to love this role and tend to be conscious consumers.

Model the behaviour you expect – Shop from purpose driven companies, if you want them to shop from purpose driven companies. Don’t litter, if you don’t want them to litter. Children may not always listen but they definitely imitate. Being an example is the best thing you can do for your children.

Participation -There are events happening across India and the globe to involve children in environmental protection in the form of beach cleaning, tree planting, donation drives etc. These activities will let your child engage with peers on these topics at their own level. Being all talk and no walk is a terrible example for your child.
Most of the activities they partcipate in might be short term but it is a great bonding moment for kids and parents to share the same values, morals and acting on it. Watching other parents and children participate will positively reinforce these ideals in them.

As parents, one undergo immense pressure to provide their children with best education, nutrition, monitored screentime, and much more. And making them environmentally conscious citizens and consumers is an added responsibility. The only way to ease the burden is to identify with the motives and making it a part of your lifestyle.

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