Teaching Kids to Volunteer

Adorable African American little girl smiles while putting her hands together with adult volunteers. She and others are volunteering at a charitable organization.

When taking on the role of parent, there are a lot of things that go through your mind. All of the hopes and dreams you have for your little one to be successful rely on the parenting you provide, and some of the most important attributes many hope for their children are to be caring and contributing members of their communities and homes. Means to reinforce this behavior can begin as early as toddler years, and encouraging children to volunteer is a great outlet for starting them on a good path.

To make volunteer work a consistent part of life rather than a one-and-done event, volunteerism needs to become a habit for your children. Like with any other habit, the best way to make volunteering a natural part of life is to do it repetitively. This could mean monthly trips to aid a local organization, it could mean seasonal projects that occur every year around certain holidays, or it could mean something totally different to you and your family like writing letters to soldiers overseas once a month. Choose something that means a lot to all of you; something that will be easy to continue doing with joy and not exasperation. Make it a habit.

Another way to make volunteering the norm for your youngster is to encourage their involvement in organizations that believe or are founded on service to others. Scout groups and religious youth groups are examples of the types of organizations to promote service toward others. If none of the local groups interest your child, consider starting a group of your own. Gather friends, family, and neighbors together and take turns choosing a charity of the month that the whole group can volunteer with. Make volunteering your own thing and spread the word to others who would love to take part too.

Finally, it is most important to lead by example. Roll up your sleeves and jump in there with your child and wear a smile on your face. If you take the time for others, then your child will be more inclined to do the same. Take part in community volunteer groups while your child is at a Scout meeting and discuss the meetings together on the way home. Identify needs in your own community and work together to fill those needs and take part. If it is something done together, then it is more likely to stick.

Volunteering promotes feelings of empathy and compassion and roots children into strong core values that will carry them their whole lives through. How special to instill those traits at an early age when they have a greater likelihood of carrying your child throughout their lives. By encouraging volunteerism in the youth of today, you are impacting the world in a positive way.