We all want our kids to grow up to be responsible adults, and recycling is a big part of that. But how do you get your kids to take recycling seriously?
It’s important to teach our kids to do their part to protect the environment. But trying to convince kids to see the bigger picture can sometimes be an uphill battle. So when you discuss recycling with your kids, remember that children are open minded and eager to learn, and take advantage it.
If you want to reach your kids with a good environmental message, first you do have to speak their language. Charles Taft, of Develop-Good-Parenting-Skills.com has lots of good advice on how to get your kids to recycle
Don’t baby your kids
Kids need to understand that what they do impacts the Earth. So Taft encourages parents to speak frankly about recycling to their kids. Be honest about why recycling is important. But keep the emotional needs of your child in mind when talking about serious subjects. Instead of stressing the doom and gloom we grown-ups sometimes ponder, engage your children with fun and amazing facts about recycling. You can find some interesting curbside recycling facts at Earth911.com and 10 fun facts about recycling at Humanityy.com. You might also check out Fun & Funny Facts About Recycling at eHow.com.
Lead by example
Your kids will do what they see you do. So if you don’t already do so, start recycling at home. Get your kids involved in the process, too. Give your kids a sense of responsibility and accomplishment by letting them collect recyclables or take out the recycling bins each week. Kids will generally live up to your expectations when they feel they are being given responsibility and being treated like like a grown-up.
Make it fun
Turn recycling chores into a fun game to help ease the “I don’t wanna’s” that kids can sometimes get into. You can sing songs, make a contest out of who can collect the most of a certain item, or simply use collected material like magazines and newspapers to make art projects like paper mache or collages. By making a boring chore fun, you also teach your kids the importance of getting through a difficult task with good humor.
Use the cha-ching factor
Another good option might be to let your kids take the recycling to the recycling center and pocket the proceeds. This worked great with my neighbor’s 11 year old son. Once he was allowed to use the money he earned from collecting and recycling cans to save up for a video game, he became more interested in participating in recycling. Or you might also establish an allowance for recycling chores, just as you would for other household chores. My 5 year old nephew, James, gets a quarter each time he takes recyclables out to the collection bin. Of course he also has a habit of trying to make 10 trips a day, so you’ll probably have to do what my sister-in-law did and set limits on the number of trips that can be made in a day.
Good habits start early, so it’s important to help your kids understand the long term good they can do by protecting the environment. Learning about -- and participating in -- a recycling program will not only teach your kids about environmentalism, it will start them on the road toward good stewardship, and that will last a lifetime.