When communities and families face difficult times, the result can be unsettling — especially for children. Kids take comfort in certainty and routines, so abrupt change can sometimes be traumatic.
One way to restore their confidence is to allow your own kids to help the community. Encouraging them to be of service to others adds many benefits to your kids and other families, including:
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Provides a sense of purpose
- Increases happiness and physical health
- Establishes a sense of connectedness
Overall, helping out in the community lifts your childrens’ spirits and the people in the community.
Try these ideas to influence your kids to give back to the community.
1. Match Their Interests With Opportunities
It’s important to find out what piques their interest to motivate them to volunteer. You can get your children excited about giving by engaging them in the decision-making process for which charities to support.
For instance, if your child loves animals, perhaps they’ll find a local animal shelter or rescue group interesting. Once you select a group, look for ways to support them by donating food or volunteering time.
For additional motivation, you can agree to match your children’s contributions. Or, you could give the kids an allowance for giving. Providing a fund teaches your kids to plan and prioritize philanthropy. One study found that 39% of kids who received a giving allowance were more likely to donate to charity each year.
2. Add Fun by Getting Active
Do your kids like sports or enjoy being outdoors? Show your children they can do something good for themselves by doing something active. Have them participate in a health challenge such as a 5K walk that supports an important cause. Or, they could enjoy the beautiful, sunny weather by volunteering at a park cleanup or local building project.
Giving back while being active is a great way to get your kids involved in doing good for the community. Plus, participating in these activities is an amazing way to get exercise — and it’s something your kids might enjoy doing.
3. Make It a Family Tradition
Around the holidays or a special occasion, this is when you can encourage your family to give back to those in need. When you and your entire family get involved, you inspire everyone to be part of it.
For instance, you and your children could donate to a toy drive during Christmas. They get to make other kids feel special during a giving time, and their willingness will make them feel proud of their generosity. Plus, they can look forward to the family tradition every year.
Another example would be to have your kids participate in an adopt-a-family program. Or they can spend time at a food drive and fill boxes. Let your kids know how important it is to help out with their community. The shared experiences will teach your kids valuable life lessons and learn what it means to give back.
4. Take Advantage of Opportunistic Times
If you have teens, let them know that summer vacation is a great opportunity to give back to a good cause. If your teens are staying close to home, look for opportunities for them to volunteer. For instance, they could volunteer their time at a summer camp or a sports team for younger kids.
If your teens decide to travel, encourage them to do volunteer work and make a difference. Educate them on what difference they can make in someone else’s lives. They could learn a lot from working with impoverished kids in different countries to rebuilding communities affected by natural disasters.
5. Lead by Example
If your kids see you giving back to the community, they’ll want to follow in your footsteps. Parents are the most influential in their kids’ lives. Yet, the age of 12 years is when the greatest impact of parenting occurs in a child’s life. So if you have a child of this age and you’re interested in helping the community, this is the best time to lead by example. Once your kids witness you volunteering your time and resources, they may have the same passion for helping the community.
6. Start Small
Your kids might feel overwhelmed if you try to give them a responsibility they might not be ready for yet. Start small by giving them responsibilities at home. If you’ve got young children, this is a great opportunity to teach them to do small things around the house. As they learn how to help around the house, they’ll realize the importance of helping others when you bring them up in this way.
One thing you might want to avoid is pushing them too hard. A reluctant kid might not feel right during the first few times of community service. Consider giving them time off and communicate the importance of helping.
7. Help Them Understand Why
Always give your kids a talk about how lucky they are to live a comfortable life. As young as your kids may be, they’ll only have a faint idea of how others aren’t so fortunate. Therefore, you should discuss with your kids why people are homeless or out of jobs and require their help.
Allow your kids to understand their situation and give them insight into how they can make a difference by lending a helping hand. When they see the world through their eyes, they’ll be more likely to help those in need.
Empowering Your Kids to Be Giving
Teach your kids the lessons of generosity and gratitude. The earlier you start, the easier it is for them to grasp the importance of giving back. Yet, once your children get used to helping the community, your kids will feel empowered to keep giving.