There seems to be a generalized opinion that kids and teens in America are selfish and spoiled. While this might be true of some kids, it doesn’t have to be true of yours. By setting a good example, talking about people, animals and things that need help, exposing your child to charitable opportunities and stressing the importance of community, you can raise children who are empathetic, giving and kind.
The Most Important Role Model – You It is nearly impossible – not to mention not fair – to expect your child to be caring and charitable if you are not acting that way yourself. On the other hand if your children see you donating canned goods to a food drive, clothes to a thrift shop and toys to needy children at Christmas time, they are more likely to think of doing good deeds as the “norm”. They’ll see volunteering as just something that should be done and giving as the only way to be.
Talk About Worthy The opportunity for charity is everywhere. Depending on the age of your children you can talk about those who need our help – be it abandoned pets, the environment or families living in poverty. If your children are in their teens, you can watch news programs and international reports showing how desperate the needs of many are in this world. Caring doesn’t have to be done in big ways only. Little acts of kindness make a large difference and you should be sure to let your children know that. Holding the door open for someone, picking up something someone dropped for them, smiling at someone who looks like they are having a bad day, these are all tiny ways you can improve the lives of others while demonstrating to your children that doing good things for the sake of doing good things can give you a feeling of joy and satisfaction.
Simple Projects Naturally you’ll want to match your caring project with the age of your child or children. For kids who haven’t started school yet, consider activities that involve picking things up or sorting things out. Recycling projects are good for preschool age children.
Six- through nine-year olds enjoy collecting things for donation, picking up litter at parks and beaches, and making arts and crafts for worthy causes.
Once kids get older they can do more planning and promoting events. Volunteering at an animal shelter, after school clubs or a senior center can be a rich and rewarding experience for teens and tweens alike. There are many websites online that can match your children with age-appropriate volunteer opportunities.
Caring DIY Style Eventually your child will bring up an issue or cause that touches them. At this point it is important, even vital, that you encourage your child to do something to help while you support in any way that you can.
All over the news are stories of kids from six to college that have collected pennies for clean drinking water in Africa, schools for children in impoverished countries, a neighborhood playground, protecting the rainforests and on and on. Everywhere kids are doing big things and the one thing they all have in common is someone believed in them and supported them. Be that someone for your children.