Scientists tell us that we have entered a period of climate chaos as greenhouse gases raise global temperatures and destabilize atmospheric systems that have maintained Earth as a habitable planet. Uncertainty about the future is unsettling for adults — and difficult for children, too. As much as we may want to protect children from alarming news, stories about climate change are in the media, and more and more children experience impacts directly through more frequent and intense floods, droughts, heat waves, storms, and wildfires. A friend told me that when she was tucking her eight-year-old daughter into bed one night, her daughter looked up at her and asked, “Mommy, will the world be all burned up before I grow up?” Older children and teens who took to the streets during climate strikes have expressed anger at adults’ inaction.

It is important to help children manage their fears and worries about climate change — but also help them know they can contribute to addressing climate change challenges. Feeling agency to do something effective is an essential part of managing fear. So is the social trust that comes with knowing that you are not alone, that other people share the same concerns, and other people are also taking action.

Let your child know that fears about climate change are understandable and other people share them.

If your son or daughter has said something that suggests concern about climate change, create a quiet time to listen openly. Young people who say that