How to talk to children about the environment in a non-alarmist way

Children at the Seaside
Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

When my 3-year-old daughter points out an octopus, she says: ‘Mum, this is optimist’ To which I laugh and I say: Yes, this octopus looks like she is an optimist. Smiling and joyful. My son laughs at it all and he tries to teach her the difference in pronunciation. We have a good time and of course a conversation on the differences in meaning. But then philosophically I enquired: If an octopus was an optimist how would she imagine the oceans to be now?

We brainstorm the answers:- She would like it to be full of shining lights. She would like it to be clean. She would like not to confuse a plastic bag for a friend? She would like to smoothly hide on the ocean base and she wouldn’t like to scratch her tentacles on a tin. She would like to see the shimmers of light in the water instead of dark pollutant. She would like the water to be just the right temperature for her so that she doesn’t sweat too much (ok, not sure if they sweat but there you are). The answers fly.. She would like to be recruited by scientists to gather planet-saving data and make the oceans safe for the sea turtles.

And what do you think?

If an octopus was an optimist how would she imagine the oceans to be now?

Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week. We thought it is a great time to share this post about discussing environmental issues with young children. Our guest writer Alicja is a Trauma-informed Coach, Educator and Creative Artist at

Also check out our pages written for children here

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