Raising compassionate children is more important than ever, but in today’s world, when children are exposed to so much negativity, parents may be wondering where to begin. Introducing kids to volunteerism from their earliest years is an excellent way to teach kids about compassion, empathy and gratitude.
Why volunteering? Volunteering is a way to show kids that their actions directly affect the world around them. Positive actions have positive effects. Even very young children can perform simple actions to improve their community.
Ready to introduce volunteerism to your children? Following these four steps will make the process easy and help instill in them a love of service and giving back:
1. Take a look inside yourself and see what your personal goals and motives are for introducing volunteerism to your children. Children should be encouraged to volunteer not for personal accolades and praise, but because it is the right thing to do. What are your family’s values? Choose a volunteer opportunity that reflects those values and talk with your children about why you choose to help in that capacity.
2. Be ready with answers when your children ask “why?” Talk about how important volunteering is and what a difference volunteers can make. Have specific concrete examples ready. For example, show kids a park that is maintained by volunteers or take them to meet volunteers at an animal shelter.
3. Choose age-appropriate activities. While older kids are able to volunteer at a soup kitchen, younger children will be frightened and overwhelmed. For younger children, simple hands-on, group-based activities are best. Choosing activities that directly affect their community, for example a school or a park they like to go to, will have the most impact.
4. Look for a non-profit that welcomes children as volunteers. Before signing up with your kids, contact someone at the organization and ask the following questions:
— Does the organization have a history of working with children volunteers?
— Are children welcomed?
— What kind of jobs are available that can successfully be done by children?
— Will specific and concrete examples of children’s contributions having a positive effect on the project be provided?
Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: Gold standard accredited child care learning programs by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)