The Times West Virginian

Family Times

December 10, 2012

Teach children importance of volunteering

During the holiday season, many families might be looking for ways to increase volunteer efforts.

Traditional volunteer opportunities are not always a fit when parents have to worry about coordinating extra childcare and balancing their regular volunteer schedule with children’s activities and unexpected illnesses.

And yet it may be even more important to volunteer when families have young children — as a type of “spiritual maintenance” and a social outlet, and also as an example for children.

Parents who are looking to volunteer with their children can use the following tips for teaching kids about giving and volunteering.

• Model giving.

Parents can talk about charity all day long, but what children will really notice is what the adults in their lives do to make the world a better place.

• Look to other kid role models.

Sometimes the role model is another child. Gabe O’Neill founded Kids Are Heroes with his then 9-year-old daughter to recognize the efforts of young volunteers and tap into this inspirational power.

• Work together.

Don’t underestimate the power of working together as a group. Working together multiplies effectiveness and also gives kids a social incentive for getting involved with a cause. Plus, the experience of working with a group benefits the young volunteers.

• Start small.

If it is easy for adults to get overwhelmed by all the pressing issues facing the world today, it is even more important that it is kept simple for children. The message that small acts of kindness count will resonate with children who are often very aware of their own relative size and power in the world.

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