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Teaching Children about Giving Back and Volunteerism

Teaching Children about Giving Back and Volunteerism
Posted on November 21, 2018 by CHS

Please note: This blog was originally posted on November 21, 2017, and has been updated with additional content to help families in our community.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is the perfect time to teach your child about being thankful and giving back. At a young age, children are full of curiosity and are still learning about the difference between right and wrong. It’s important to teach your child about gratitude and helping others at an early age. By taking time to help children understand the value of giving back, children will learn that they should regularly do nice things for others.


How to Teach the Importance of Giving Back and Volunteerism.

Make Comparisons
According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers in Teaching Children the Importance of Giving Back, “use this time of the year to discuss with your children why it is important to give back by drawing simple comparisons to their own lives.” When donating items, try reminding your child how you have the same items in your home; however, some families do not. You can further talk about the importance of donating food or volunteering his time to help others and explain that by donating food or helping at a local food pantry, he can help a family receive a healthy meal. Statements like these will help start conversations with your child and give him the opportunity to ask questions that help him further understand the value of giving.

Choose Age-Appropriate Opportunities
Kristin Testmer, author of the article "Teaching Your Kids about Giving Back," suggests that parents  “remember to tailor activities based on your child’s age and interests, and be patient as they grow to understand the importance of giving back.” If a volunteer activity does not interest your child, it may be a good idea to continue the search until you find a project that does. For example, one would not expect a 5 year old to carry 40 pounds of clothes or a 3 year old to read to a group of 7-year-old children. Use your judgement and knowledge of what you think your child can handle when selecting volunteer activities. Take it slowly as your child learns the value of giving back.

Use What Your Child is Passionate AboutAnderson also suggests giving back by doing something your family loves. Is your child passionate about animals, reading, or cooking? If so, cater to those interests by taking your child to volunteer at animal shelters, libraries, or food pantries. You can also donate gently used books, clothing that is in good condition, or canned food at shelters, thrift stores, and other volunteer locations. By allowing your child to help out with what he loves, he will feel a sense of gratification and have fun while he gives back.

Make Giving Back a Regular RoutineCreate a goal for your family to give back regularly so that the act of giving becomes an ingrained habit for your child. For example, you could drop off food at shelters once a month or do volunteer service twice a month. The important thing is that you do this as a family routinely, creating habits that your child can carry into adulthood when he has his own family.

Below are some ideas on how you and your child can practice volunteerism:

  • Donate old clothes and toys that your child has outgrown or that have not been worn or played with for over a year. Be sure to allow your child to choose the clothes and toys to donate on her own so that she is included in the process and is aware of the clothes and toys that will be donated. When your child receives a gift during holidays or birthdays, ask her to donate one of her old toys to help her appreciate the things she has and to consider other children. 
  • Helping out your neighbors helps foster a sense of community. Your child can rake leaves for elderly neighbors, offer water and snacks to garbage collectors or mail carriers, and your teenagers can babysit your neighbors’ little children. You can also connect with retirement houses in your community and see if your child can spend time with elderly people in your community to provide companionship. Many senior citizens light up in the presence of children.
  • Buy some dog or cat food for your child to donate to a local animal shelter. After donating the animal food, you and your child can visit the animals as a fun activity that also puts the donation into perspective. To get more involved, foster a dog or a cat for a few weeks, as many shelters need all the extra help they can get. Not only will you be helping the shelters and providing love for the animal you foster, you are also teaching your child the responsibility of looking after an animal. 
  • Help your child to set up a lemonade stand, car wash, or other type of fundraiser to raise money to donate to a charity of her choosing. You can also ask familiar neighbors and friends if have any clothes or toys that they would like to donate. Go with your child to drop off the donations.

There are many different ways to give back. Feel free to get creative with your family and come up with some ideas of your own as well.

You can find more ways to give back by reading the full articles: 

9 Ways to Teach Your Child about Charity
5 Ways to Teach Your Kids about Giving Back
Teaching Children the Importance of Giving Back
Teaching Your Kids about Giving Back
5 Ways to Teach Kids the Value of Volunteering
Community Service: A Family’s Guide to Getting Involved
Be a Volunteer (An Article for Kids)

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