When you’re an adult it’s all too easy to remember the first, often faltering steps out of the family nest and into a flat, or shared student accommodation. No doubt the laundry took some figuring out – and you may have taken a while to cook up dishes that were half as good as Mum’s!
These days there’s no doubt that the earlier parents teach children some simple life skills, the more confident and independent they can be later on in life. Although for many parents it hurts to think of your little one outside the home, passing on a basic recipe (or some laundry know-how) will help your child thrive later on in life. The best news is that you can pass on some green attitudes while you do so. That way you’ll have the satisfaction of handing down knowledge on how to make the world a better place to the next generation.
Even the least enthusiastic cooks should leave home with a couple of easy recipes up their sleeves to keep them and their flat mates well nourished. The promise of a good dinner is also a smart way to attract the opposite sex – a factor not lost on tempting food phobic teenage boys! A good way to get your children interested in food is to let them help with the cooking, that way you can pass on simple recipes and cooking skills to them from an early age. Children who have grown up handling healthy organic or fairly traded food are less likely to go hungry (or undernourished) when they’re older.
Most of us leave school knowing a little bit about maths, but not much about handling credit cards or dealing with overdrafts. This can lead to some particularly sticky financial lessons over the coming years. To make sure your child is money-wise, encourage them to get involved with saving from a young age. Show them how saving just a little bit of pocket money every week comes with a big feel-good pay-off (like a new toy). Remember that kids often take on the spending habits of their parents, so ease off next time you reach for the plastic.
Green spending habits can also be taught early. Let your children know that banks invest your money rather than save it – and that they can put that money into causes which harm the planet. Also let them know how spending can be a force for good, and that by avoiding the supermarkets and embracing local businesses they can aid the local community.
In previous generations, owning a car was a rite of passage – a symbol of a teenager’s independence. However, in these more eco-friendly (as well as cash-strapped times) it’s good to teach your child that there are greener ways to get around. When they’re young take the bus, or train, as often as you can and remind children how it’s a much greener mode of transportation. If you do take the car, remember to share lifts with other users to conserve energy and reduce carbon. Better still – get the family out on their bikes to enjoy the fresh air. Cycling is a great green habit to pick up.
Papa, Don’t Preach!
Despite good intentions, most kids of a certain age will turn off their attention the moment they think they’re being preached to. With this in mind remember to:
1. Talk to your child, don’t lecture. Find out what they think and feel rather than delivering a sermon. 2. Provide model behaviour. ‘Show’ rather than ‘tell’ and your kids will be more likely to follow suit. 3. Remember being a kid. Probably the most important point of all. Remember to make learning inspiring, relevant and above all, fun.