Volunteering for a Change
Too often, the idea of volunteering is limited to the holiday season. Or worse… relegated to the function of boosting a child’s academic resume. Parents and kids view volunteering as a to-do rather than a way of life. But volunteering for the right reasons brings with it a host of benefits for parent and child alike, not to mention making the world a better place.
Kids who are involved in volunteerism manage to cultivate a mature sense of people and of the world that usually would come much later in life. Two positive mindsets that can be difficult for kids to master are empathy and gratitude. Since these are the makings of a caring human society, we should do what we can to lay a foundation for these principles in the lives of our children. Kids who volunteer to help the less fortunate have the chance to develop a sense of empathy as they interact personally with others in unfortunate situations. Gratitude is the flip side of the empathy coin. Seeing others in need can make children thankful for what they have.
Empathy and Gratitude.
Beyond empathy and gratitude, though, is giving your child a sense that although the world is not a perfect place full of perfect people, they have the power to effect positive change in their communities. Anne Frank wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Instilling this sense of hope and agency in your children is a gift to them and to the world itself.
If you think volunteering has to be some mundane or laborious task, think again. There are all kinds of ways to help your community while having good times together as a family. For ideas, visit this list. From something as simple and sweet as a toddler offering a popsicle to a garbage truck operator, to raking up leaves for an elderly or disabled neighbor, to forming a neighborhood food-sharing co-op. Kids of all ages and families of all lifestyles (even the busy ones!) can make a difference– big or small– in their local or global communities.