By Amanda Henderson, SafeChildren.info
Teaching kids about the world is our jobs as parents. We have to tell them about the good and the bad, and we wish we didn’t have to tell them about the latter. But with the bad comes teaching them how they can make the world a better place. Getting involved in charity work is beneficial to everyone, including those who give.
Teaching your children altruism helps improve their mood and behavior, as well as boosts their self-worth. It inspires them with a sense of mission, which can change their outlook on the world. It can help them see the world outside of themselves.
Here are a few tips for getting your family into charity work this year:
1. Get the whole family to work together to find items that can be donated to charity -- from clothes to toys to items of furniture -- so that the kids can understand the need for giving things away, as well as the benefit of decluttering. Encouraging them to let go of some of their beloved toys will also teach them to move on and not hold so tightly to the past. Then take the kids with you when you drop them off so they can see what they’re giving to.
2. Take your kids with you when you give blood. Letting your children see you donating will teach them the importance of giving blood, so when they get older, they’re more likely to give, too. Talk to them about why giving blood is important and discuss organ donation with older kids.
3. Do a fun run. There are so many community events to raise money for various charities, you’re sure to find one that represents your values. You and your kids can train to run a 5k together, which has the added benefits of time spent together and exercise. If that sounds like too much, walk it. Some kids like dressing up in costumes for races, which adds an extra layer of creativity.
4. If your kids are pet lovers, try getting them involved in animal charities, such as animal rescues, shelters or a zoo. Helping with animals teaches them responsibility and understanding, as well as all the work that goes into caring for animals.
5. Join up. When kids are involved in scouting groups or faith-based organizations, they often work on projects to help people in the community. Consider being a leader or volunteer in these groups to encourage more giving projects. Plan visits to nursing homes to sing holiday songs, deliver handmade cards to children’s hospitals or raise money for a school.
6. Encourage savings. If you give an allowance, have your children donate a percentage to charity. You can even allow them to choose the charity that they feel most passionate about. When their charity savings builds, they can watch it grow and understand how money increases over time. Kids also will see how little amounts of money when combined with other donations will make a big difference.
Showing kids the value of empathy is important for all parts of their lives. They’ll grow up with a better sense of caring for others.