Compassion and kindness are lessons that I have worked to teach my children since they were very young. As they grew, I began incorporating lessons about giving back, as well. As a parent, I want to raise responsible people who look out for those who are less fortunate or need a helping hand. I want them to understand that you don’t have to be rich or highly privileged to give back. Just a few minutes of your time or a few dollars from your pocket can go a long way to making someone’s day a little brighter.
As in many areas of life, kids tend to emulate what they see in their parents. My children have watched me volunteer at church, school, with sports organizations, fundraising, and so much more. I knew that the example I was setting had started to sink in this year as we were counting down the days to the last day of school. My 5th grader was ending his school year several hours before his 4th grade brother. After his last day ceremony, I offered him the option to stay home and play video games alone for the afternoon while I helped at the last day party for his brother’s class. His response? “No, I’d like to go back to the school and volunteer in D’s class. Would that be okay?” So after lunch, we headed back to school, scooped ice cream, and cleaned up the classroom after treats had been served.
It’s easiest for us to give back our time and money to organizations and causes that are important to us, so it only stands to reason that our kids will get excited about giving back in ways that are meaningful for them, as well. If they’re sports fans, they can volunteer for cleanup days at the local ballfield or assist with teaching games and sports skills at a VBS program, camp, or other organization. Animal lovers could help walk dogs or collect spare change to purchase food for animals at a rescue organization. Look for ways to tie in the things your children love most into your philanthropic efforts.
There are sometimes age limits or certain qualifications in place for volunteer opportunities, but don’t let this stop your kids from giving back. Ask around at different organizations to find out if there are other ways that your children can get involved. If you’re still coming up empty, consider developing your own ideas to help your kids to make a difference. You can have them do extra yard work or household chores to earn money to give to their chosen cause or help them hold a yard sale or lemonade stand to save up money for donations.
Working together to support the causes that are important to everyone in the family will make it even more fun to give back. Everyone can get involved and spend time bonding as they learn more about what is important to the other members of the family. Creating traditions of volunteering time to different organizations will create wonderful memories for your family as you make the world a better place.
What do you teach your children about giving back? Are there special causes that they get excited about?