These days, as people spend more and more time staring at a screen, looking at celebrities and a life of excess and communicating online rather than face-to-face, it’s easy for kids to grow up to become self-absorbed and obsessed with their image. They can tend to focus on their outer rather than internal traits and may struggle to interact effectively in person.
To help your children become community-minded, positive citizens, you must take steps to counteract some of the negative trappings of modern life. Kids need to be taught how to have empathy, assist others and work to make the world a better place. This helps them to become happier, more grounded people, too.
If you’re keen to find ways to encourage your family in the philanthropic direction, read on for some tips you can follow today.
Teach Children to Give Up Their Possessions
For starters, help your children by teaching them to give up their “stuff.” Kids and adults tend to accumulate all sorts of possessions, many of which are hardly ever used; most are relegated to the back of a closet or to the garage. Many items also need a clean or need to be repaired.
As such, it pays to set up a system whereby once a month or quarter, or just whenever your child’s room and other areas seem fit to burst, you go through things and declutter. At first, your kids will likely be resistant to the idea of letting go, but the more often you do this, and the better you explain how their work will help the less fortunate, the more accustomed they’ll get. Most kids actually end up getting excited about finding things to pass on to other people.
Get your child to help you go through their belongings, to look for things they no longer use because they have grown out of them, physically or mentally. These types of items are perfect to be donated to charities, shelters, churches and other organizations. Make a pile of items which need to be repaired or cleaned, and then donate these things once they’re in working order; recycle as much of what’s left as possible.
It also pays to get your child to work with you on clearing out the house, garage and other areas of your home. Children learn by example, so when they see you’re parting with things, they will be more motivated to follow suit. You may even find that your kids start urging you to donate your boat to charity or to give away that kitchen appliance or exercise bike you have hardly ever used. This will then help to keep you committed to the decluttering process yourself!
Turn Celebrations Into Opportunities to Help the Less Fortunate
Another great way to develop community-mindedness in your kids is to encourage them to turn celebrations into opportunities to help the less fortunate. For example, on their birthdays or at Christmastime, instead of compiling a long list of toys and other presents they’d like, they could ask family members and friends to donate to a charity of their choice. In addition, when they receive money from the tooth fairy, they could save this up in a piggy bank and donate it to a worthy cause once they have a set amount assembled.
It’s beneficial to spend time together as a family volunteering. The place you choose, and the amount of hours you volunteer will vary according to the age and interests of your children, but even by just helping hand out soup at Christmas or collecting canned food for families at Thanksgiving will have an impact on young minds and hearts.
Do some research in your city or suburb, and you’re sure to find many places where you and your children can help out. For example, try a local soup kitchen or food bank; a homeless shelter; a church; an animal shelter; a community garden, etc. Your kids’ school may also be able to put you in touch with families or organizations who could do with some assistance.
If your children are little and you think they’re too young to spend time volunteering amongst strangers, remember there are ways you can get them involved at home. They could help you create drawings or letters for children, veterans or other people who need a little light and love in their lives, or they could draw posters to be used at charitable events. They can put together food baskets and assist you to buy extra items at the grocery store to fill them or run a bake sale or some other event at school.