How do you encourage your child to get involved in the world around them and learn skills? One great opportunity that is often overlooked aside from when it is required by schools is volunteering. Although volunteering focuses on helping others, there are many personal benefits that even children can gain by getting involved:
1) Teaches Appreciation
As adults, we understand that not all people are in the same family or financial situations as ourselves. However, for children, this idea can be more challenging to understand.
Especially during the holiday season, volunteering is relevant as many people are primarily focused on what they hope to receive. Therefore, if children were to volunteer and help the homeless they would learn they are very fortunate to have a home, loving family and food on the table.
2) Enhances World Perspective
Volunteering can help children learn that the world includes more than just their home or school. This can help them understand why it is important to get involved in the community and take actions that benefit everyone. When children develop this awareness, they may become inspired more frequently to get involved and think about how to make a difference without your urging.
3) Inspires Giving
The act of volunteering can show children they can make a difference even when they don’t have money. In fact, in many cases, it is just giving our time to others that matters. For example, children can volunteer at a retirement home and spend time with the elderly who have no family members. When they know they have made a difference in someone else’s life, they will be excited not just about receiving but giving as well.
4) Introduces Life Skills
When children are exposed to different environments and situations, they can learn many different things. Different volunteering roles can teach young children the importance of listening to directions, for example. These roles can also teach older children to take responsibility through leadership or to listen to the thoughts of their peers. One very important skill all children learn from volunteering is how to work together as a team.
5) Builds Social Skills
Parents are often concerned about their children meeting friends, especially if they are shy. Additionally, when children do make friends it is normal to worry about their habits and personalities and how they will influence our child. However, when your child volunteers it opens the possibility for them to be able to engage with people over similar activities and interests. Volunteering also enhances the chance for them to meet with people of different races and backgrounds.
6) Benefits Physical Health
For many parents, it can be difficult to get children to be physically active if they don’t enjoy playing sports. However, volunteer opportunities commonly involve individuals to spend time outside on their feet. What’s great about volunteering is that children can improve their physical health whether they are aware of it or not. In 2013, one study showed that 10th graders who volunteered in an after-school program lost more weight compared to their non-volunteering peers.
7) Influences Balanced Habits
It can be difficult for busy parents to find ways to entertain their child that does not involve technology. As a result, children may spend hours playing video games or watching television that has no beneficial value. Volunteering gives children the opportunity to put their time towards something which can help emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually. Overall, when children have different hobbies other than spending time on technology, their lifestyle can be more beneficially balanced.
8) Develops Sense of Purpose
When we give our time to people or causes that need it most, it helps us feel good about ourselves. In a big world, it can be difficult to know where we fit in and or how we can start making a difference. By volunteering, people can see that actions which might seem small can make a big difference in the lives of others. As a result, getting involved in giving back to their community can help develop self-esteem.
9) Improves Self-Awareness
By taking a part in trying to change the world, people become more aware of their habits. As a result, it becomes easier to complete future positive actions. For example, someone who has spent time with the homeless may be more likely to first think about donating old clothes instead of throwing them away. Children who have spent time planting trees or flowers and making their community look better may be less likely to litter.
10) Shapes Their Future
Those who give their energy and free time to causes are working for a better future for everyone. However, volunteering can also help your child build a positive future for themselves personally. Both the child and parents can learn more about what the child enjoys leading to future activities.
Whether child or adult, there is always potential to grow and learn something new one by getting involved. Did you volunteer as a child or in your teenage years? What benefits do you believe it has given you?