Vivian Perämäki

Transforming Climate Anxiety in Parents of Young Children 

Enhancing resilience to climate anxiety and fostering well-being

Climate Anxiety in Parents

The climate crisis affects parents› mental health negatively. Feelings such as sadness, overwhelm, frustration or worry are brought about by the adverse effects of slow and gradual shifts in the climate, and are commonly known as climate anxiety. Increasing one’s pro-environmental behaviour, connecting to nature and fostering mindfulness are effective strategies to reduce climate anxiety. Today, many parents are already trying to lower their impact on the environment, but negative eco-emotions are often suppressed due to their limited capacity to cope with these feelings alongside their other parenting responsibilities. Compared to other slow-changing but powerful actors like governments and companies, parents often feel their actions don’t matter enough, which in turn can lead to feelings of powerlessness and paralysis. It is crucial that parents find constructive ways to deal with their anxiety to be positive and reassuring role models for their children and increase familial well-being.


Proposed Intervention

Together with parents, an intervention to address this issue was developed. The intervention consists of an audio story with songs, accompanied by a children’s book, which aims to introduce families to effective pro-environmental behaviour, nature connectedness and tools to increase mindfulness. This should help parents deal with their climate anxiety while nurturing a positive and loving parent-child relationship. Environmental topics and healthy self-regulation tools can be introduced already to young children under five in a positive, playful and age-appropriate manner, to foster well-being in the family and increase resilience to negative climate-related emotions in the future.


Value and Limits of the Proposed Intervention

The intervention addresses healthy coping for climate anxiety in the familial context. To tackle the highly complex and systemic root causes of climate anxiety, the issue would need to be addressed on a bigger scale, including substantial actions from other stakeholders like governments and companies to reduce environmental damage. With an individual’s limited capacity to change the situation, personal transformation is needed. Here, the proposed intervention could offer value to parents who are seeking ways to deal with their climate anxiety.

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