Gratitude and Volunteering
Whether it’s shoveling the neighbor’s driveway, donating toys for a local toy drive or building a house for Habitat for Humanity, teaching the importance of volunteering can be one of the best gifts a parent can give to their child.
How Volunteering Benefits Your Kids
Involving kids in volunteering can have health benefits and give kids a sense of being part of the community.
“Research shows that children who volunteer are usually more compassionate, empathetic, tolerant and do better in school,” says Dean Clinic - Child Psychiatrist Bhawani Ballamudi, MD. “Research also shows that kids who volunteer are less likely to engage in risky behavior, because they feel that sense of community.”
How to Get Kids Involved
The idea of giving, whether it is time or money, does not always come naturally for kids, because they are often used to having things done for them or given to them.
Dr. Ballamudi offers the following tips for getting kids involved:
- Be a good example for your children. If they see you volunteering and offering your time or resources, kids are more likely to want to get involved.
- Work with your child’s interests. If they like art, let them make cards for sick children in the hospital. If they are an animal lover, they could volunteer at the local Humane Society.
- Find something easy. Volunteering does not need to take up the entire day. The easier it is to get somewhere, the more likely you are as a family to stick with it.
“Teaching kids gratitude is also important. In fact, volunteering can actually help kids become more thankful for what they have,” according to Dr. Ballamudi.
Kids who exercise gratitude are less likely to struggle with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as headaches and stomach aches.
How You Can Teach Gratitude
So, how should you go about teaching gratitude?
- Ask your kids to list two or three good things that happened during the day. It will get them focused on the positives.
- Have them write thank you notes for gifts or other nice gestures they have received.
- Involve them in volunteer opportunities so they learn that they can make a difference in someone’s life.
- Encourage generosity by donating toys or clothes to kids less fortunate.
Through volunteering and working to teach our kids gratitude, parents are also spending valuable time with their children. That family time together is another important gift parents can give to kids.