Just as we invest time and resources into sports and other activities, it is important to do the same in our children’s sense of service and helping those around them. As parents and teachers of our children, it is important to instill this idea of giving back, even at a young age. Begin by first explaining the meaning of giving back with your children—in order to fully benefit from giving back they must understand the concept of making a difference for those around them. Children have some of the biggest hearts in the world, and with a little direction and guidance from their parents, they can make such a big difference. And although there are tons of different ways to give back, here are some great ways to initially get your children involved.
Donating Clothes And Toys
Children grow like weeds and change their mind on toys by the day. This results in lots of clothes that are no longer being worn and toys that go unused. Instead of letting those items sit around the house, take this opportunity to involve the kids in donating to the less fortunate. Ask each child to choose the items they want to donate specifically, and explain the importance of giving back to other children who are in need of clothes, or don’t have any toys. Once the donation bags are packed, take a trip to the charity or drop location and allow the kids to make the donation themselves.
Make Simple Acts of Kindness Part of Your Daily Routine
Children are inspired by their parents. What they see Mom and Dad doing, is what they want to do. Make a conscious effort to include at least one daily act of kindness towards another in your daily routine, and soon enough your children will follow your lead. This action doesn’t need to be a large gesture, or consume a lot of time, it can be as simple as helping an older citizen to put groceries in their car, rake the leaves up in your neighbor’s yard, or giving a compliment to someone who looks like they need a pick me up. If you set the example as the parent, soon enough your children will be doing the same acts of kindness. They will also realize that all you really need in order to give back is simply the desire to do so.
Make It A Family Affair
One of the best ways to increase bonding with your child is to volunteer in the community together. Especially if life is currently being controlled by packed schedules and commitments, taking the time to give back together can really help to slow things down, and provide quality time as a family. Some family service ideas include cleaning up a park together, participating in a walk for a cause, or volunteering at a local animal shelter. Afterward, be sure to recap what you accomplished with your service and how your children contributed to the cause.
Reaching Out to Neighbors and Community Members
Giving back doesn’t only include a charity or cause, it can also simply be contributing to the members of your community. A fun, and easy way to invest in your community is to surprise and delight others around you. You can bake cookies for service men and women of your neighborhood, or write holiday cards for senior citizens at a nearby nursing home. By delivering surprise themselves, children will be able to see and understand the immediate effect of their actions and service towards others.
Help Your Child Find A Cause They Are Interested In
Getting your child involved with something they are interested in like a sport or other hobby is easy. So why not use their current interests to connect them with a cause to support. Take the time to research various charities with your child that relate to their specific interests. If they are excited about the cause, the rest is easy. Once they choose their charity help them to make an action plan of how they are going to support them. This could include fundraising, volunteering or participating in a local chapter event. Set goals for how much money they want to raise, or hours they want to volunteer and help your child to achieve those goals. Children love to feel good about themselves so encourage their pride in accomplishing what they set out to do. If you get them excited about what they are doing, they will take their own initiative to continue supporting their cause.
Instilling a culture of giving within a family is an ongoing process. Continue your children’s service activities throughout the year. Involving children with giving back isn’t only beneficial for the community, but also for the child. It can give them self-confidence, establish new connections and friendships and ultimately invests in their values and kindness towards others.