Instilling the Spirit of Giving in Your Child
Teaching the gift of giving is a valuable life lesson appropriate for any age. Research shows that people who are involved in charitable giving when they are young are twice as likely to continue giving in adulthood, and volunteers live happier and healthier lives. By involving your child in community service activities, you can begin a tradition that lasts a lifetime.
Children, like adults, can donate time and effort to most any community project. When children participate in community service, they:
- Experience a connection to their community;
- Develop social responsibility;
- Become aware of diversity in their communities;
- Learn about team work, problem-solving skills, and citizenship; and
- Build confidence in knowing they can make a difference.
To encourage your child's participation in community service, keep these recommendations in mind:
Start small, at home:
- Lead by example around the house by recycling or starting a donation box for gently used clothes.
- Engage them in frequent conversation about why it’s important to help others and community service.
- Let your child pick out a non-perishable food item at the grocery store that will go toward a donation.
- Be a good neighbor and help out on a cleanup crew at a local park.
Then go bigger, and have fun:
Serve as a role model by volunteering for a community organization such as your child's school, your local community center or even participating in a charity walk as a family.
- Involve your child in selecting a project or cause in which they want to participate.
- Consider a developmentally appropriate activity based on your child's interests and skill level; frequently organizations can help connect you with volunteer activities appropriate for children.
- Prepare your child for the experience by asking questions, providing options, and listening to your child’s needs and wants.
- Praise your child’s efforts and talk about your volunteer experience afterward.