How to talk to kids about climate change

by Elizabeth Bagley, Ph.D.
A child and adult fishing on a beach

Can’t we just let our kids be kids and enjoy the innocence of childhood? Do we really need to talk about climate change with them?

I’m a big advocate for talking with kids (and everyone!) about climate change and, specifically, how we can work together to create the world we all want for ourselves and for future generations. Climate change is already shaping the future the next generation will inherit. As such, we have a responsibility to talk about climate change with the kids in our lives, particularly when they have questions about what they will inevitably hear at school or in the news about the climate crisis. 

But talking about climate change doesn't have to – and shouldn't – focus solely on the problem. By sharing climate solutions and stories of people taking action to stop climate change, we can relate both the severity of climate change and inspire hope and resilience.

Still, talking with children about climate change can be daunting. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with the science. Or maybe you, understandably, have your own strong emotions on the subject. 

You don’t have to face climate change – or conversations about it – alone.

I get it. I am a parent of two sons and an educator who has taught 8th to 12th graders. But I’m also the managing director of Project Drawdown, so I spend a lot of time thinking about climate change. 

Through all of these experiences, I’ve found that the best way to connect with kids about climate change is to meet them where they are by listening, learning, and finding community. I hope the suggestions below will support you and the kids in your life on your climate change journey because we truly need everyone to join the conversation. 


I’m a naturally chatty person, and my dad has a habit of reminding me that we have one mouth and two ears and should use them in proportion. I try to remember his “suggestion” when kids in my life want to talk about climate change. As a trusted adult in their lives, I know it is up to me to create a comfortable and safe space where they can voice their worries and ask questions without judgment. Kids have heard bits and pieces about climate change from various sources, and I can listen, understand their perspectives, and address their concerns. 

The scale of climate change can be overwhelming, and eco-anxiety is a real issue, even for children. It’s important to acknowledge their feelings and provide reassurance. Explain that while climate change is a big problem, there are many brilliant people working on solutions and even more people around the world taking small but meaningful actions in their own lives. Provide concrete actions kids can take at home, at school, and in your community to implement climate change solutions. Remind them that the weight of the world doesn’t rest solely on their shoulders, and by working together, we can create a brighter, more resilient planet.

It’s also important to recognize when kids just want to share their feelings and when they want help actively seeking out solutions. Sometimes a sympathetic set of ears is all they – or any of us – need. 


Encourage kids to be curious and ask questions about climate change. Dive into the science behind the problem and the solutions. One of the challenges of understanding climate change is that the main culprit – heat-trapping greenhouse gases – is invisible. Find ways to help children visualize the problem and the solutions. Use graphics, animations, and interactive apps to show how emissions contribute to climate change. Demonstrate with experiments how renewable energy sources work or how trees absorb carbon dioxide. Play games like Daybreak that provide kids with agency and teach them about the wide array of solutions we can implement. Making the invisible visible can help children grasp the concept more concretely. Links to age-appropriate resources are below. 

Talking to children about climate change is not just about educating them on the science; it’s about empowering them to be part of the solution.

Equally important is balancing conversations about climate change with those that underscore the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Visit science museums, planetariums, and nature centers to cultivate a sense of awe. Take walks in the park, go camping (or glamping!), start a container garden and watch your plants grow, or spend time stargazing or listening to birds. Finding fun ways to connect to the natural world can help people feel calmer and less anxious, and in fact, researchers have found that regular exposure to nature can reduce stress and improve mental health for people of all ages. 

Share stories about people and communities around the world who are affected by climate change and those who are actively working on solutions. Highlight the resilience and ingenuity of individuals and communities facing climate challenges. This can help children relate to the issue on a personal level and inspire them to contribute to positive change. Stories from everyday climate heroes implementing climate solutions in their communities, like those highlighted in Drawdown’s Neighborhood, can be motivating for kids and help them see themselves as agents of change. 

These stories illustrate that change is possible and happening right now. Whether it’s a community switching to renewable energy like solar, wind, or geothermal, a city banning natural gas in new buildings, or a school reducing food waste, these examples can show children how their actions can make a difference.

Find Community

You don’t have to face climate change – or conversations about it – alone. Find ways for the kids in your life to get involved in local climate solutions. You might find opportunities through your local library, school district, faith community, or environmental groups. This could be participating in community clean-up events, starting a garden, joining a local outdoor group, or advocating for greener policies in your community. Start with activities that bring you and the kids joy (yes, climate action can be joyful!) so you all will want to stick with it.

Look for people in your community who are working on climate change solutions and introduce your children to them. Local environmental groups, scientists, and activists can serve as inspiring role models, provide a supportive network, and amplify your efforts. 

By seeing real-life examples of climate action, kids learn how change often starts at the local level and that they can be part of the solution.

Let’s Do This!

Talking to children about climate change is not just about educating them on the science; it’s about empowering them to be part of the solution. 

By listening to kids’ concerns, learning with them, and encouraging them to find ways to engage with climate solutions in their community, we can help give them a sense of agency and accomplishment. Sharing stories of everyday climate heroes, getting involved in local solutions, and remembering to find joy in the process can inspire them to take action. 

Fostering a sense of wonder and community will equip kids with the tools and motivation to create a future we all want to live in. 

Lastly, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to talk to your children about climate change, seek additional support. There are many resources available, including books, online courses, and workshops, some of which are linked below, designed to help parents and educators navigate the climate change space. 


Elizabeth Bagley, Ph.D., is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist and learning scientist with experience spanning academia, business, and the nonprofit sector. 

This work was published under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. You are welcome to republish it following the license terms.