Did you know that children who serve just one hour or more a week are less likely to be involved in at-risk behaviors than those who are not active in volunteering?
When children volunteer, they develop new social skills. They mature with a stronger sense of responsibility that will powerfully shape lifelong values and purpose. Best of all, the earlier children are involved in volunteering, the higher the probability this will become a lifelong habit.
In fact, a recent study uncovered that volunteerism is one of the top 10 habits of people who have achieved financial success, citing that 3 out of 4 people volunteer year after year at least 1 hour per week.
Volunteering counters our culture’s “me first” focus. While individualism advocates personal interests before the interests of others, volunteerism helps our children look intently at the plight of others and fortifies a tenant of our faith to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Parents are often told to model the behavior we want. I’ve found it to be different with volunteering. When my girls were very young, I volunteered a lot. Although they saw volunteerism modeled, but it didn’t click in until we initiated projects together. As an example, family vacations weren’t just a time to nest at a resort; rather we’d include a day or a week volunteering at a non-profit we’d funded.
During tough seasons as a family, we pressed all the more into volunteering and found that it lifted our spirits as we took the focus off of ourselves. Now as adults, both girls are actively living their calling and volunteering is a key component of their life’s work.
One key caveat: I’ve found that it is important to find places to volunteer where your children fit best. This includes age and emotionally appropriate opportunities that are in an area of interest. Begin by working one afternoon together and talk about it afterwards to assess the fit. Rewarding them for working is ok; an ice cream or movie might help jumpstart the adventure.
Websites are available to help you locate the best volunteering matches for you or your children. Engage them in scouting out opportunities. A few sites to consider:
- Or call your favorite charity and see what opportunities they have available