How to Raise an Activist Kid

Helping kids understand tough issues empowers them to take action and change the world.

By Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger

Wildfires, droughts, war. The most gripping drama is often in the daily news.

Through two decades of working with young people around the world, addressing many emotionally difficult social issues, we’ve learned that no matter how far away a tragedy strikes, it always hits home. Kids experience the suffering of others in a very raw way because they are innately empathetic.

Parents may wonder: What do I say to my children about events that may frighten or overwhelm them?

When we were kids, our dad was selective about the news topics he discussed based on our age, but we remember feeling quite grown-up as he explained root causes of disaster and conflicts, and he always solicited our ideas for solutions.

The most important role you may play in helping your kids navigate global tragedies is providing them with an open space to talk and have their questions answered. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that uncertainty can be scarier than understanding what happened, how and why—even in simple terms without scary details.

Listen to your child, learn how much they know—and what else they want to know. Then allow them to share their feelings, and express your own.  Our dad, for example, would tell us he felt sad or frustrated, and then share how he dealt with those feelings. We all felt better sharing our emotions.

The next step is taking action (donating to relief efforts or organizing a neighborhood fundraiser) because action curbs the sense of helplessness. Modeling the kinds of things you want your kids to do empowers them to find solutions to social issues they may encounter each, such as homelessness and littering.

It’s also helpful to talk about people who need our help in our own neighborhoods, so your family’s social action doesn’t end when the media attention on a global issue disappears.

Together we can unleash the power of positive impact, and it all starts with your commitment to making the world a better place. When you take the WE Pledge, you’re making the promise to live every day to the fullest by taking action, helping others and making a difference.

Living WE means that no dream is too big! If you have a world-changing idea, deepen your knowledge and find creative ways to make it happen.