This weekend I took my 3 year old with me when I went to cut and donate my hair. We started a conversation about why somebody would need it and why I would donate it even if I didn’t know the person that would use it.
It got me thinking about how we teach our children about the impact they can have on the community around them. Many of the tasks/activities our children are involved in have a clear reason for participating; it’s fun, my parents told me to, my teacher told me to, my friends are doing it, etc. Talking with you child about doing something to make somebody else feel good (with no other need for reward or recognition) is a great way to develop empathy, charity, and compassion. What could your family do to help others around you? Check out some of the ideas below. My daughter and I will be heading to visit a local nursing home to spend some time with the residents soon and she's participating in a "hop-a-thon" to raise money for local animal aid. I’d love to hear what your family gets involved with!
Consider some of the following ideas:
*With your child, go through their clothes and toys and collect any items they have outgrown or no longer use. Drive together to a donation site to donate these items.
*Visit an elderly neighbor or a local nursing home to drop off homemade cards, or visit to play games or read books together.
*Clean up a community space – collect trash and recycling
*Donate part of their allowance to a charity of their choice (help them decide what they would like to support!)
*Plant a tree
*Bake homemade treats and drop them off for your local fire or police station
*For older children, look to see what they can do actively with a local organization to give some of their time. Consider using your child’s interests to find the right match. Like sports? Consider the Special Olympics. Animals? Local animal shelter, Audubon society, etc. Books/reading? Check out opportunities at the local library for volunteering.
*Purchase and decorate reusable grocery bags and fill with kid’s favorite non-perishable food items. Drop them off at the local food pantry together
*Practice Random Acts of Kindness and ask your child periodically; “What nice thing have you done for someone recently?” Share your random acts too!
*Decorate cards, letters, or supplies and send overseas for local soldiers.