From sports leagues to community centers, there are plenty of things demanding your family’s attention. Children today tend to have jam packed schedules with plenty of kids’ activities available to them.
While we are fortunate enough to afford our children plenty of avenues to broaden their horizons, at times we forget to remind them how fortunate they truly are.
Taking some time out of your family’s busy lives to gain some healthy perspective is well worth the effort. It can help your kids truly practice gratefulness, humbleness and provide them a sense of compassion for others that can last a lifetime.
Sure, your town may not get hit with hurricanes or reside in earthquake country, but there are still plenty of ways to get your kids involved with disaster relief.
Encourage them to raise their own money to donate to a worthy cause. Lemonade stands, collection jars and letter writing for sponsorships are incredible ways to raise funds for the Red Cross or a local fundraiser aimed at a particular issue.
Your child will gain self-confidence, feel accomplished when they reach their personal fundraising goal, and learn that giving money away instead of spending it can be just as rewarding as receiving a new toy or taking a special outing.
From food closets to special children’s events around the holidays, almost every church is equipped with at least a handful of activities each calendar year where families can serve together. Perhaps you are already plugged into a particular church or spiritual center. If this is the case, there are usually instant ways to get involved with helping others. If your child is older, teen missions trips and service days are the norm in many churches.
If you aren’t particularly religious, you can still call your neighborhood church and ask for ways your family can help out. Chances are plenty of needs have yet to be met and they will welcome your willing service.
The best part of church involvement is many service projects only last a day or weekend. You can get your kids connected to a world of compassion and humanitarianism without having to commit to months at a time.
Habitat for Humanity and other groups that focus on providing basic resources for low-income families may also be more local to you than you think. Sometimes you can conduct a United States search and find a project happening practically in your own backyard. These local tasks often involve families working together – and if not, they certainly can direct you toward a regional group that does.
Finally, one of the simplest and most practical ways to teach kids empathy is to have them volunteer in an arena they are already interested in.
Does your child love animals? Find out if your local humane society is in need of dog walkers.
Do your kids’ grandparents live far away? Encourage them to still spend time with the elderly through visiting a convalescent home and bringing crafted gifts or a performance of dance, music or drama.
Call up local shelters, soup kitchens or community centers. They are usually overflowing with opportunities to get involved, and are often well-equipped to give tasks to young people.
The best time of year to call? During the school year away from major holidays. This is when many groups are forgotten – they are overwhelmed with donations and offers for assistance during the Christmas season – but not so much in May or October.
Whatever you decide to do, try to find an activity your child will recognize as helpful to others, and they will soon find it is in fact helpful to them as well!
Written by Tamara Warta