Helping others arms your children with rewards and skills that ill last long after the holiday cheer has faded. Here’s how.
when your child gives, she gets…
Courage to initiate change. When a child improve someone else’s life, she sees that he can change the world around her – and even herself for the better.
Compassion for all beings. Helping people in need lets kids care. Same goes for working with animals. The kindness, understanding, and patience that kids learn in caring for pets segues to gentleness with peers.
Enthusiasm for teamwork. Working with others toward a common goal shows kids that sharing responsibility can have a bigger impact than going it alone.
Powerful pride. Volunteering is a win-win experience for kids: Every little bit they do helps, and that, in turn is a great self-esteem booster. Realizing that they did something to make someone else smile is priceless. You can’t match that feeling.
How to Plant the “Giving” seed
It is never too early to expose your child to philanthropic activities. To motivate them to give back, here are some expert tips:
START SMALL. Teach your toddler about generosity be encouraging her to share her toys, rewarding her for helping around the house, or showing her how to give a loving hug to someone who is crying or hurt.
PRAISE KINDNESS. When your child does something nice for someone, compliment him. Say “Thank you for helping Mommy pick up those clothes” or “It’s so nice of you to share your book with Dominick.”
SET AN EXAMPLE. Let your kids see you doing generous acts – even helping an elderly person grab something from a high grocery shelf will make an impression. If parents do it, children will do it.
TALK ABOUT REACHING OUT. Slip a newspaper article about a family in need under your child’s plate and discuss it over dinner, or direct her attention to causes that spring from the news. We have talked a lot as a family about Hurricane Katrina – imagining what it would be like to lose your home, school, or even friends.
GET THEIR INPUT. By asking your child for ideas (i.e., “Our neighbor is sick, what should we do?) you’re saying that his opinion counts. This makes a kid feel valued, which empowers and motivates him.
REMEMBER THE END GOAL. Showing kids the full circle of their volunteer work makes them want to do more. After your child has collected canned food for the homeless, take her with you to drop it off at the shelter or church so he can see firsthand the results of his work.
APPEAL TO THEIR INTERESTS. Encourage your child to choose an activity that he’s passionate about. Kids love to show what they are good at. and the more you draw on their abilities, the more motivated they become.
Ideas for your child to try
Children who love animals can:
- Visit the animals at the shelters to give them much-needed love.
- Walk or bathe the pet of an elderly or sick neightbor.
Children who love being around younger kids can:
- Teach a young neighbor to ride a bike, tie his shoelaces, or tell time.
- Collect money from family members and take a deserving child to lunch and a holiday play.
- Tutor younger kids after school.
Children who love nature can:
- Organize a litter patrol for the schoolyard or neighborhood playground.
- Help plant flowers at a local park.
- Cut and arrange fresh flowers and deliver them to patients at a local hospital.
Children who love the arts can:
- Make holiday greeting cards and give them to the elderly at a senior center.
- Offer to do gift-wrapping for an elderly neighbor or an overstressed new mom.
- Help paint a hospital, shelter, or community-center mural.
Children who love to read can:
- Lead storylines at libraries and shelters.
- Collect books and magazines from neighbors and deliver them to shelters, day-care centers, and hospitals.
- Read to elderly nursing-home residents who have vision problems.
Children who love interacting with people can:
- Visit a convalescent home and take wheelchair-bound patients for walks.
- Go to a homeless shelter and play with the kids who live there.
- Put together simple bag lunches and distribute them to the homeless.
- Organize a canned-food drive at school and prepare and serve the food to the homeless at a local church or shelter.
Source: Redbook Magazine