While the debate on climate change — led by young eco warriors like Greta Thunberg and others — rages on, the term, ‘eco-anxiety’ is slowly gaining currency across the world. Some even call it ‘climate trauma’. To put it simply, eco-anxiety is a stressful psychological reaction to the fears of our planet being ravaged by a tsunami of environmental crises, which can be triggered by events like global warming.
Eco-anxiety can affect both the young and the old. As Caroline Hickman of Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA), a group of psychotherapists, counsellors and other psychological professionals, based in various parts of the world, writes, “Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilises. Already, studies have found that 45% of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters.” Agrees Kuhoo Gupta, founder, The K Junction, a Pune-based organisation that deals with parenting issues, among other things, “As children learn about these events, they can feel vulnerable and powerless – this can lead to anxiety and deep-rooted fears among kids.” So, how, as parents, can you help your child cope with eco-anxiety?
Get your kids to talk about what they feel about the ongoing debate on climate change and how it’s going to affect them. Encourage them to talk about what particularly rattles them when they read or listen to discussions on various environmental crises. For instance, rising pollution levels in Indian cities are a constant worry. So, ask your children, how breathing in toxic air makes them feel.
Depend on facts
When you talk to your children about climate change and other environmental issues, tell them the blunt truths. Encourage them to read articles or books that offer cogent data about how climate change is going to impact our lives. As Hickman of CPA puts it, some of the eco-anxiety children feel can “stem from confusion – why aren’t adults doing more to stop climate change?” Therefore, you can also talk to your children about the steps global leaders are taking to mitigate the crisis.
Be a role model
If you haven’t adopted green strategies at home yet, do it now! Start recycling, stop using plastic, plant trees regularly, buy organic and local produce, embrace green technology and travel to places where you can just feel one with Nature. Children look up to their parents as role models. So, watching their parents adopt sustainable living, can help them learn about the best ways to tackle everyday environmental issues.
Art therapy and journaling
Gupta of The K Junction advises parents to help their children learn creative arts. “Art therapy can help children to destress,” she says. Gupta also recommends journaling. “Journaling can also help children to feel less anxious,” says Gupta. “Kids can do journaling every day to express their emotions and thoughts in their diaries, where no one is going to judge them on the basis of what they have written.”
The article published on Dec 11, 2019 in the femina.in, regarding “How you can help your child cope with eco anxiety” by Kuhoo Gupta.