Volunteering… For The Good of Community
Studies by the World Volunteer Web of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme show that, children and youth who volunteer are likely to perform better at school and are less likely to engage in risky behavior. Encouraging your child to participate in the community nurtures a sense of responsibility, compassion and gratitude. Here are some interesting ways that you can introduce your child to community participation:
1. Explain the Rationale
A great way to introduce the spirit of community participation is to regularly talk about what is going on in the community. Instead of making all your family conversations about domestic issues, diversify and talk about other issues facing the community you live in. This will help to sensitive your children about real issues that they can be a part of without expecting monetary returns. It may take longer for some children to buy into the concept, but you need to be patient until the child comes around.
2. Do It Yourself
Plenty of research indicates that children are more likely to participate in community work if they see their parents doing it. Take up a voluntary cause within your community; it will be easier to ask your kids to join you when they can see that you too are getting your feet wet. Children must also see the benefits you are ripping from volunteering; if you are grumpy and stressed out with your volunteer projects, there is no way your children will want to be involved.
3. Indulge Their Interests
As your child gets involved in the volunteer projects that you participate in, he might start to develop interests of his own. Allow him to volunteer in projects that are closer to his heart. If he is more interested in caring for lost or orphaned pets, allow him to do so. Children, both young and old, are more likely to stay committed and put in their resources in something that holds their interests. The good thing is that there are myriads of local projects in any given community that your child can participate in.
4. Offer Adequate Support
Follow up with your child about his volunteer project. Talk with him about what he is up to, any interesting happenings and more importantly, what he is learning from the entire process. Just talking with your child and listening to him tell you about his volunteer work gives him a sense of accomplishment.
Support can also come in the form of facilitating your child with the necessary resources he needs in his volunteer work. If he needs to be dropped at a certain venue, make plans for that. If he is involved in a school fundraising activity for homeless children, offer to help with some of the fundraising activities. Lack of support will surely frustrate the child and he is likely to quit even though he was having a good time with the volunteering project. Lastly, praise your child for the good job he is doing helping others in the community.