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by Emily Patterson
One of the best ways to create a lifetime habit like volunteering is to encourage children to start at an early age. Many parents are aware of this and the ways it can help reach the goal of raising caring and socially involved children.
Encouraging young children to volunteer will get them started early on the path to becoming the kinds of adults parents want their children to be. Some simple guidelines will help you get your children involved in volunteering and help ensure their experiences are positive.
Volunteering is something that anyone can do. There are volunteer opportunities for people of any age, skill set and set of interests. Your children will benefit the most and will be more likely to enjoy themselves and want to continue volunteering if you find the right activity for them. A toddler is not too young to volunteer, provided the activity is age appropriate. Beach cleanups or visits to a nursing home are potential opportunities for the very young set of volunteers.
Choose an organization to volunteer with carefully. Interview organizations you are interested working with to make sure they are a good fit for young volunteers. It is best to choose a place that is accustomed to involving children and enjoys introducing children to the world of volunteerism.
Make volunteering an important part of your family. It is not enough to simply tell your children it is important to volunteer and encourage them to do it. Lead your children by example and show them that volunteering is important to you and the rest of the family by volunteering yourself and sometimes as a family. After a volunteer experience be sure to discuss how it went. Discuss both the positives and negatives of the experience. Be sure to highlight how volunteering makes you feel and encourage your children to discuss how the experience felt for them and why volunteering is important.
Every good parent wants to help their children grow into the best people they can be. Modeling and encouraging volunteering on a regular basis is just one of the many ways a parent can work towards this goal. Making sure early volunteer experiences are positive will increase your chances of success.