Kids love to play with and in the water, especially on hot summer days. But experts say you can also teach your kids to love saving water.
California’s recent water emergency is forcing residents to dial their lawn sprinklers, shorten their showers and make other water-console changes in their routine. Although there are many steps we can take as we personally have low payments – and nothing we do at home can reduce the temperature or bring more rain – every gallon of clean water saved is enough to meet other needs.
And there are so many little things that kids can do with their parents that they can easily reduce waste. If you have a teenager in your home, you’re familiar with three sets of 20-minute showers and hamper-filled clothes per day. If you have a small child, there may be several cups of water sprinkled around your home at any given time.
Teachers say one of the best ways to change your children’s water habits is to explain how their actions affect the community and the environment. That sense of connection will help provide the motivation needed to create water-saving habits.
You can give your kids more encouragement, though, by making protection a game rather than a job.
Here are some tips from experts in child development and “gamification” to help your kids cut their water bills.
Not angry, but teaching
Many Southern California children have received some training in school water conservation through educational programs sponsored by local water agencies. For example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power sponsors “Drop in the Bucket”, a science-based water education program aimed at Wildwoods grades 3-8.
Dwayne Wilson, founder and executive director of Wildwoods, said talking about the gravity of the state’s water shortages is not the way to start a conversation with your kids about cutting water waste. “It’s all about leading with opportunity,” Wilson said. This is how Wildwoods teaches about climate change, he said – not focusing on the impending crisis, but focusing on what children can do to help.
Behavior change does not come from rote learning, but from deep understanding and connection based on personal experience, Wilson said. So parents need to help their children see how they can benefit from changes in their routine, whether it’s their environment, their community or their family’s finances.
Tiffany Baka, public affairs manager for the Orange County Municipal Water District, echoed that point, explaining how her agency’s educational programs have evolved in recent years. “We really needed to start a connection between the water supply and the people who use it,” Baka said.
The point of the agency’s effort in schools, she said, is to get students to “find sources of water supply and start asking, ‘How did the water come here? Who is affected by the drinking water here? What can I do to make things better?’ You only become an advocate of water by exploring the world around you. “
Message flow in schools can help, but preservation lessons need to start at home with the example set by parents. “We are the first and foremost educators of our children,” said Mark Moss, chief public affairs representative for the Southern California Metropolitan Water District. Long before our kids are in preschool, Moses said, “We can model simple water conservation practices in front of them.”
It is also important for parents to give their children a quick explanation when reducing water use – for example, when they turn off the tap when brushing their teeth. It can be as simple as saying, “We’re saving water,” Moss said.
“Children can absorb age-appropriate water conservation lessons at an early age,” he added. For preschoolers, the message may be that saving water today is important so that we can share it with plants, animals and other people tomorrow. When kids go to elementary school and high school, Moss said, you can start talking about concepts like drought and climate change.
“Continuity and diligence,” said Keitzer Puglia, a professor of child development and special education at Pasadena City College. “What you plan to do with the kids, plan to do it consistently every day,” she said, “takes some time to get used to.”
Parents need to be realistic about how much they can put on their shoulders, and face the challenge of creating new behaviors in small pieces. Puglia said, “Instead of doing six things a day, start with one; do it for two weeks. Then go to another, whatever the activity, for two weeks. Then build.
Another key, she said, is understanding your family’s values and values, rather than trying to bolt someone else. “Families need to think together, what can they contribute? And then really do that, “Puglia said.
The idea behind gamification is to provide the same kind of mental and emotional rewards that non-game activities can play. You’ll need two things to get started: a list of the behaviors you want to promote, and rewards associated with your different levels of achievement.
“Behaviors associated with recognition can turn them into habits,” advises Centrick, a performance management company. Keeping track of progress towards the goal – say, the goal of saving 100 gallons – or charting the number of consecutive days after a task is completed can reward participants with a dopamine hit, and encourage long-term engagement, “wrote Katrina Balboni. Software company Appcues.
You can turn water savings into inter-family competition, or you can set conservation goals with rewards for meeting them. And you don’t have to come up with all the ideas – you can encourage your kids to design their own water-saving challenges. Implementing their ideas will “motivate them to become more involved in water saving efforts,” says the ParentCircle blog.
“Once the kids take care of something, the gamification piece is pretty simple,” said Wilson of Wildwoods.
He suggested that his family start by identifying how to use water – bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, washing cars, watering lanes, watering gardens, and so on. Then work from the bottom of the list eliminating issues that aren’t worth the fight. Forward
“You can set the goals and benchmarks you want,” he said. “Your water bill will tell you the exact result of your efforts.” In addition to saving water, Wilson said, it is “a great lesson in math and data collection.”
Some goals for your family
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a family of four uses an average of 400 gallons of water a day in this country. This leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Generally, households use as much water outside the home as they do inside, where the main uses are bathing, washing clothes and washing dishes. So when developing goals and rewards, think about the amount of bath water, the number of loads of clothing and utensils, and ways to reduce the amount of water sprinkled on your lawn and plants.
Competition can be fun, but it’s not for everyone. To avoid hurt feelings, look for ways to spread the word.
As Wilson noted, children do better when they can combine their actions with the benefits they produce. So consider entrusting them with flowers, a special plant or plants in the garden, then reward them by watering them with water they have saved or recovered at home. (But don’t let the plant die! It’ll be bad.)
You can track the amount of water saved (for example, by taking a short bath) and the amount of water found (for example, by reusing vegetable rinse water), the number of consecutive days hitting the low-water-use milestone, or the family watering their monthly water. Use deducted amount.
The BBC offers a game you can play periodically, called a leak detector. Put a teaspoon of food coloring in one of your toilet tanks. Wait 15 minutes without flushing, then check the water in the bowl for coloring – if you see any tint in the tank, you find a leak that can waste as much as 200 gallons a day, EPA estimates.
Here are some behaviors you can use as targets for your kids (potentially the amount of water saved, where estimates are available).
- When brushing your teeth, turn off the water (4 gallons per brush), wash your hands (about 2/3 gallons per wash) and wash the car (up to 100 gallons).
- Rinse fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a tap.
- Take a quick shower instead. Shower heads 2 to 2.5 gallons per minute spray; The bath usually takes 25 to 35 gallons. So a five minute bath can use 25 gallons less than a bath.
- Do not waste bath or bath water while warming up. This means plugging in the shower when the water starts to flow, not when it is warm. And when bathing, gently pour warm water into the bucket; You can use water after flushing the toilet (up to 1.6 gallons per flush for a new toilet, and up to 7 gallons for an old toilet) or water plants.
- Bathe less often. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Essen, once or twice a week is best for children before they reach puberty, as long as they go for a walk or swim in the mud or sweat. Once hit in adolescence, daily bathing is a thing.
- Hang your towel between bathing or showering and use again. Thus, the American Cleaning Institute advises, you can use three to five between washings.
- Wash clothes several times before washing. According to the American Cleaning Institute, most clothes without underwear, socks or gym clothes can be re-applied at least once or twice in between washing unless they are “visibly dirty or stained”.
- Use only one drinking glass per day, and when pouring water, fill only half way at a time. And if there is anything left over, use it to water the plants instead of pouring it down the drain.
- After scraping off any leftover food, place the dishes directly in the dishwasher without rinsing.
- Instead of running a tap to get cold water, keep a container of drinking water in the fridge.
- At the end of the day, pour the water left in your pet’s water container into the plants, not into the sink.
- Broom cleaning of patio or driveway instead of hose.
- Wash your bike or scooter with a bucket and sponge instead of a hose.
One factor that works for parents is that their children may be more receptive to the protection message than ever before. Puglia, who is also a member of the La Canada Unified School Board, said the current generation of schoolchildren is “really very aware” of water, climate and planetary issues. He added, “They have a clear understanding of what is happening and what will happen if we do nothing.”