Listen and Validate Feelings

Many youth feel that it is socially not welcome to talk about their concerns or anxiety around the impacts of climate change, leading to feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Nearly half (48%) of youth have been dismissed or ignored by other people when they try to talk about climate change. Over 60% of youth feel that their governments are failing them in not adequately addressing climate change, are misrepresenting the impacts of actions taken, and are dismissing people's distress. Youth often feel that their opinions don't matter to society until they are old enough to vote. It is critically important that our youth feel heard by adults, including caregivers, teachers, and the leaders of our governments.

When teaching about climate change, one of the most important interventions that teachers and caregivers can employ to address climate-related distress is simply to create a safe space for youth to share and be heard. Include discussion and normalization of feelings about climate change. It is okay for people to be angry, grieving, anxious, and overwhelmed. Even feelings of denial or apathy are a normal part of the grieving process (see "Moving Through the Grief").

Listen, without trying to solve, fix, or dismiss

                  Resources:

  • Have the Talk: Climate Conversations CLEAN resource is an effective resource to help youth have conversations with their family about climate change, with a large emphasis on listening.  
  • Talk Climate website offers resources and activities devoted to climate and mental health organized by age categories and describes strategies on how to talk about climate with youth. This helpful infographic outlines some simple strategies about how to talk about climate with youth.   

Provide compassion, care, empathy and show authentic curiosity 

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Remind youth they are not alone in feelings and share that many people are working on this problem; it is not solely up to them 

                  Resources:

  • Project Drawdown is the world's leading collection for climate solutions, and has numerous examples of people all over the world currently working on solutions.  
  • Eco-anxious stories offers a collection of reflections by people surrounding various emotions related to climate change.   

Invite all voices to the table  

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Be aware of "settler privilege" 

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Create a safe environment for sharing, using group norms and restorative practices  

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