Teaching our kids about our precious wildlife in a time of crisis - Kiindred

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Teaching our kids about our precious wildlife in a time of crisis

by Emmy Samtani | posted 11th January, 2020

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Prior to Christmas, we were going to share with you all a list of wonderful things to do over Summer in partnership with WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Since our country is now in crisis and our beautiful land is burning, it seemed a little ill-fitting to write something which felt insensitive to the current situation.

It’s hard to escape any conversation around what is happening right now and you can guarantee there are little ears listening at all times. The sheer volume of wildlife that has been affected as a result of the fire crisis is horrific – the numbers are staggering! There are plenty of images and videos circulating of the injured animals and whilst we do our best to ‘shelter’ our little ones, they are going to be seeing and hearing about it in one way or another.

Admittedly, this wasn’t something I was prepared for. We were so caught up watching the news 24/7 over the last few days, that we failed to realise the impact it would have on our (nearly) 5YO. She had been seeing the devastation, the dead animals and the stories of people losing their homes… and she had questions.

Who is going to look after the sick animals? What happens if they don’t have a home? Can we make them come back alive?

I recently read an article by our Child Behaviour Expert, Stephanie Wicker and she had some wonderful tips on how to navigate conversations around the fire crisis. I find it really helpful to be armed with this information, in order to be better prepared for such questions – thankfully I had seen her post!

Here’s how we applied her tips in our home:

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It’s hard to escape any conversation around what’s currently happening in our beautiful country. Whether it’s devastating scenes on the television or just passing comments about the smoke lingering all over the city. Our little ones are listening and absorbing all of this information without you even realising it. They will be processing what they see yet may not be able to articulate how they feel. They will start creating their own version of this ‘reality’ and it’s important for us to ensure those thoughts are discussed and we can have a plan in place to help them feel part of a solution. This afternoon I caught up with Steph Wicker, to find out how we can best lead age-appropriate conversations around the fire crisis and ensure we are supporting our little ones in a time of need. @simply_kids_consultancy #firecrisis #climatechange #supportourkids

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1. Take the Lead & Encourage Questions

I led the conversation around the current fire crisis and what is happening to our beautiful country. We asked her if she had been seeing things on TV about the fires and if she had any questions. This was a really great way to gauge what she had been seeing and what she may be processing in her little brain. For example, I wasn’t aware that she had been seeing the ‘dead animals’.

2. Reassure feelings & emotions

Through our conversations on what was happening, we uncovered mostly feelings of sadness. Whilst she hasn’t mentioned feeling scared just yet, it’s not to say it won’t come. It’s only through having these conversations that we can truly see what they are thinking about – and reassure them it’s ok to have these feelings because we do too!

“Mumma feels really sad too.. it’s horrible to see the animals hurting and the fires”. Thankfully we are safe here, so maybe we can help to make them feel better. Let’s think about what we can do together!”

3. Let’s make a plan together!

Steph says that children thrive when they feel part of the solution – and it’s so true! If there is any way to turn anxiety into control, it’s through being able to contribute in their own way. I have seen so many wonderful charities circulating and we decided to stay on theme with the animals and adopt a Koala:

https://www.koalahospital.org.au/product-category/adoptions

We are also going shopping to buy some of the much needed things for our local drop off centre, which is a tangible way for them to contribute.

Finally, visiting the Zoo is always one of the top things on our ‘Summer Fun List’ and I personally think this provides a great opportunity to have a positive experience with our wildlife to counteract all the tragic scenes we are seeing. Sure there will be questions but it is the perfect platform for teachable moments about our precious wildlife and the environment. Spending time together appreciating the animals, talking about their needs (what they eat/what they do) and why it’s so important for us to respect and protect their homes.

After discussing this with our friends over at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, we learnt about some of the wonderful initiatives they have been working on to help support our wildlife through the Wild Life Conservation Fund.

This is likely going to be an ongoing situation for a few weeks yet. So continue to have these conversations to educate them and ensure they feel safe and supported during a time of crisis.

Emmy x