Written By: Parenting Contributor, Prerna Malik, TheMomWrites.com
The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is coming up (Monday, January 21, 2013), and will be a National Day of Service to encourage all of us to help out a cause close to us, or volunteer where help is needed. In a time when kids are increasingly self-absorbed and complacent, it is essential that you and I, as parents, encourage and inspire children to volunteer and give back to the community.
It is easy for everyone to think that volunteering is something that will happen automatically or once the kids are older. However, the truth is that nearly all habits, including volunteering, are formed in the early years of a child’s life.
Here are some easy ways to encourage children to volunteer and contribute to society:
1. Find an Activity That Suits Your Child
First things first, pick activities that your child will enjoy and that fit his personality. Children who enjoy people and chatting will enjoy simple interactive volunteering activities such as spending time at the old age home or the shelter for the homeless. Your introvert, shy tween may prefer helping out with cleaning the neighborhood of litter. Don’t force a child to volunteer for an activity simply because you think it would be good for them.
For volunteering to be a lifelong habit, it must be something that kids enjoy and then feel confident enough to explore on their own.
Need some ideas? Here are ways to encourage kids to volunteer, organized according to age groups.
2. Let Volunteering be a Family Affair
Make volunteering a team effort and chances are kids will enjoy it more than ever. Whether it is serving food at the shelter or cleaning up the neighborhood or being a mentor to a younger child, staying involved in the effort as a family will help kids see you as a volunteer too and be more inspired and encouraged.
3. Give Kids the Information They’ll Need
Before sending off the kids to the shelter, let them know what to expect, what to do, what to offer and what comes next. Have answers for their questions and give them the information they will need.
4. Value and Share the Lessons Learned
Finally, and most importantly, make sure that you value the lessons they learn from their efforts and also, share any lessons that you learn. Discuss them at the family dinner table so that siblings too may benefit from the learning and help kids to carry forth that learning in their every day interactions. They would learn lessons about their identity and personality while in the midst of serving others. Most importantly, they’ll learn values such as cooperation, patience, tolerance, positive communication and more without you stressing over it.
Click HERE for more information about the National Day of Service.
How do you encourage your child to volunteer?