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Earth Day – A Children’s Character Lesson in Disguise

by Dr. Heather Wittenberg | April 22, 2014

Little girl recycling for Earth Day

Earth Day isn’t just about taking care of the planet. It’s also a great opportunity to teach young children important character lessons about responsibility, sharing, and cleaning up after ourselves. These lessons in good character are fun and easy to sneak in while you’re celebrating Earth Day.

Here’s how you can boost your child’s character development while also showing them how to care for Mother Earth:

  • Helpfulness: Find ways your family can help. Painting over graffiti, sorting cans at a food pantry, hosting a “Kids’ Treasures Swap Party” for the neighborhood, or weeding in the community garden are all ways to build character – AND support the environment.
  • Generosity: Give what you can. Help the family select a kid-and-planet-friendly cause, such as an apiary (a bee yard), a vermicompost farm (composting with worms), or an inner-city community garden. Then start saving recyclables. Cash in your stash, and have the kids help deliver the proceeds to your cause. Make an outing of it – children learn these lessons best when they’re directly involved in every step.
  • Gratitude: Be thankful for what we have. Show children how to use what’s available – no new “stuff” required. Gratitude can be taught by re-purposing toys and clothes, and by taking care of our things. Learning how money works and how much things cost can also boosts kids’ gratitude and appreciation.
  • Responsibility: Clean up – no matter who made the mess. Bring a pair of work gloves to the park and clean up while the kids play. Show them what you collected, then have them help take everything to the recycling or the trash. Say, “If we all help to clean up, this park will get cleaner and nicer all the time.” And don’t forget to take before and after photos, to show how even a few minutes of work can make a difference.

Actions speak louder than words as you teach your children these important lessons. Showing your kids how to honor the Earth will grow their character over a lifetime!