Teaching your toddler to respect the environment

Come 5th June, the World Environment Day, and the mind automatically galvanizes into action. As a concerned citizen of this earth, the present day situation of this world bothers me a lot. I understand that without briefing the youngest generation about our predicament, we cannot achieve our goal, to save the environment and the Mother Earth.

world environment day - tree

So I have decided to teach my little daughter the importance of taking care of the environment. Now she being only 2.9 years old, environment and earth are big words for her. I will have lost her attention even before I finish the word. So I break these words into simpler terms, for her, which she already knows and understands.

WATER, TREES and PLASTIC BAGS

If I concentrate on teaching her the importance of these three terms, I realize that it should take care of a large chunk of our environment issues.

WATER: Which child doesn’t love water? Put my daughter in the bathroom and she doesn’t want to come out. She likes to play with her cute little bath toys in the water or loves sitting in the bath tub enjoying the feel of the cool water on her skin.

I choose my words very carefully with her. If I tell her there is no water in Mumbai, she will tell me, “Mamma, why are you saying this? There is water, na, in the deep blue sea.” Just imagine explaining that to a toddler. 😉

So I try other tactics.

  • When she asks for more water to splash around, I remind her that water’s over in the tap. I turn off the main tap to let her see how water’s not coming anymore from the tap. She needs to know that apart from fulfilling the requisite, water is not freely available.
  • She has lots of toys and we invent new games to play with her. But we never give her water for playing. She knows that water is not a toy and playing with it is not a game.
  • I don’t throw away water unnecessarily. I collect the water that has been used for washing lentils/vegetables and use it for watering the plants. When my little A asks me, “Why is the water dirty?” I tell her, “I had soaked mangoes in it or washed daal with it.”

TREES: Kids usually like plants, trees and flowers. This liking should be changed into kindness, respect and love.

  • If you pluck flowers before them, they will do the same. Today’s flowers will turn into apathy for tomorrow’s trees. Tell her, flowers are pretty, hence should not be plucked. Similarly, trees give us fruits and vegetables (oxygen/clean air is something that you can introduce later), hence they should not be cut.
  • Grow a little kitchen/terrace garden if you don’t have much space. Tend to it and let your child help you by watering the plants, weeding and removing the dry leaves. Gradually, your child will come to love and respect the plants.

World Environment Day - watering plants

PLASTIC BAGS: When I see the streams, nullahs and roadsides filled with colorful and crumpled plastic bags, it really saddens my heart. Why do we use so much plastic? Why can’t we resort to good old days when we carried a ‘jhola’ for our everyday purchase?

I need my child to know that how a harmless looking plastic bag is actually a curse. I show her the dumps of plastic bags on the road side and ask her, “Is this looking pretty?” And she simply shakes her little head and says, “This is dirty, not cute.”

  • For my grocery shopping, I have been using these baskets faithfully for last 7 years. Whatever few plastic bags I get, I give them back to the vendor the next time I visit him. And he proudly shares this with all his other customers in the hope to start a chain. Let’s see.

World Environment Day - recycle

  • Instead of buying milk from a dairy in plastic bags, use a utensil like this ‘dolchi’.
  • I remember to carry a big purse/plastic bag whenever I go for personal shopping. This way I don’t need to buy/take plastic bags from the store.
  • Apart from these, I use an earthen pot for storing drinking water instead of filling up endless plastic bottles. Not only it keeps the water cool but it also saves energy to chill the water in the refrigerator.

World Environment Day - earthen pot

This is the agenda for this year. I have just realized that if I concentrate on these things alone with my child, it will still be a big help for the moment.

Any kind of learning starts with you. As kids do what they see, you need to start being more alert and cautious about your actions before them.

Wish you a very long and lasting WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY!

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