Parenting Matters: Please turn out the lights

How many parents say, “Please turn out the lights!” to their children? Hopefully a great many are working to teach their children about ways to save energy and how we can save our natural resources.

One of the best ways to teach about saving energy is by talking about the importance of turning out the lights each time they leave their room.

What about other ways we need to tune into our environment? Even in a previous column I have written about turning off the water while you are brushing your teeth. Even shorter showers help save water. If you don’t talk about the importance of saving water, no one else will.

Water is probably one of the most important and limited resources in the world. One way you can teach your child to help save the world is by teaching her to not waste water. Even showing her pictures of how in some countries people walk for many miles to obtain the water they need.

Talk about trash. Fortunately our country has become better (not good, but better) about recycling waste. We now need to be even better. You can teach your child to help by sorting trash at home. If you take things to the dump, they want it sorted by paper, aluminum, cardboard, plastic and glass.

If you have trash pickup, they will have you sort their way. Be sure to teach her to put trash into containers and not on the ground. Let her know that you never throw trash out your window.

Teaching her how to handle the trash your family comes in contact with will become even more important as years go by.

Teach your child about recycling items that someone else can use. Goodwill or ARC are great ways to have used items have a chance to be reused elsewhere. Have your little one pick out the toys she no longer uses and then have her take them to some place that will use them. This teaches her about charity as well as recycling. Let her see you taking her old clothes that are good but no longer fit and give them to some group who will use them again and maybe again.

Even if you can teach your child to trade clothes or toys with another child, the items will seem like new.

It is a bit harder to help her learn about keeping our air clean. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Talk about the air quality and the importance of all of us being careful of what we burn, how many miles we drive and doing what we can to make the air better.

We actually help make the air better by planting trees. Help her be involved with doing things in the yard which will teach her to be environmentally friendly.

The best way to teach our children all of these things is by demonstrating their importance through your own behavior. Once again, you are her first and most important teacher. Become an earth hugger and teach her how to save the world in what she does every day.

Earth Day was April 22, but Earth Day is every day.



Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.


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