Your teen might be up late at night worrying about the future of our planet. Countless teens report a serious concern for world issues, and one that stands out is anxiety about the environment. Whether you buy into the hype behind global warming or not, it’s important to support your teen when it comes to a topic they are passionate about. This guide will give you a starting place to reduce your teen’s anxiety and to make them feel like they are making a difference.
One of the major stressors for your teen could be the concept of waste. Every day we cycle through single-use items like paper towels, gasoline, and food wrappers. To help your teen feel more at ease about the footprint they are leaving on this earth, try making the change to more sustainable products.
We find that one of the current teen crazes is Hydroflasks. You could try buying unique, reusable water bottles like Hydroflasks for your whole family to help your teen feel like they are making a difference.
It doesn’t stop at water bottles. Getting reusable bags for the grocery store, reusable food containers, and composting your leftovers are all great ways to show your teen that you care about their interests. Your teen will have less anxiety and feel less helpless if they see that they are making a different in not just their own life, but in the lives of those around them.
Encourage Your Teen to Start a Club
To reduce your teen’s anxiety about the earth, you can show them ways to take action and raise awareness. One great way to spread the message is to start a local or school club that addresses the issues of climate change, waste, and pollution. Your teen will probably feel a lot better if they are surrounded by likeminded people who share the same concerns and want to make a difference together. There’s a good chance they will have constructive conversations and support each other, while coming up with solutions to help the planet. Plus, finding ways to turn negative emotions into positive actions also reduces the likelihood that a teen will experience risky behaviors.
Search for Activist Groups
Another way to help your teen make a difference and take action is to look for environmentalist groups in the local community. If you support your teen in joining one of these groups, they will have a lot of new ways to tackle problems that concern them. For example, these groups can attempt to influence local governments and businesses to change their practices in order to be more sustainable. Your teen can use this opportunity to learn a lot about politics and how to make a difference in their community. This is valuable because teens sometimes can’t come up with many solutions to a problem, but an activist group can provide a variety of ways to help the earth. Whether the activist groups succeed or not, it will help your teen if they know they are part of a movement that is working to enact positive change.
Explore Career Paths
If your teen is constantly worrying about how to help the environment, you could try introducing them to careers paths that achieve that purpose. Environmental studies is a growing field in colleges around the world. Plus, there are a lot of jobs in the fields of biology, politics, marketing, and more that all have the goal of being more sustainable. We suggest that you make your teen aware of these career opportunities so regardless of their academic interests, they can still find a path that allows them to save the planet.
With a long-term goal in mind, your teen will be more passionate about working hard so they can make an impact on the world. Most of all, they won’t feel like they are helpless in affecting the environment on a large scale, which will bring down their anxiety and boost their inspiration.
Now They’re Not Alone
By involving yourself in your teen’s environmental activism, you will help them feel more confident about their ability to make a difference. After all, most parents want their teens to feel a sense of purpose, and this guide demonstrates a few ways you can support your teen’s passion. Even if you don’t agree that environmental change is a crucial problem in today’s world, we think it’s best to help your teen achieve their goals to reduce their stress and make them happier.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.