5 Ways to Pay it Forward This Holiday Season
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a parent is watching your child thrive and grow into a kind and loving individual. Parents definitely play an important role when it comes to teaching our children to give back and pay it forward. As a new parent, it can be easy to wonder when a good time is to start involving your child in community projects and how to go about doing so. Below, we’ve broken down some tips to help parents teach their children to give back and some ideas on how to get kids involved in their communities.
Teaching Kids the Importance of Serving the Community
It is never too early to start instilling the importance of service in your child. There are a variety of ways to show kids why giving back to the community matters but most importantly, setting a positive example yourself is what will have the greatest impact. Although volunteering is a great way to set a positive example and help your community, it is only one of many. By integrating simple acts of service into your day-to-day life and communicating with your child about them, you can start instilling this valuable concept in your child at any time. Here are a few of our favorite ways to help out and motivate your children to do the same.
1. Clean Out and Donate Items That You No Longer Use
It’s no secret that parenting often leads to the accumulation of lots of kid clothes, toys, and other items. Over time, you’ll find yourself wanting to get rid of old items as you make room for new things. Show your children the importance of donating gently used items that you no longer use by giving old clothes, toys, and books to your local thrift store. This simple act of service goes a long way and ultimately benefits everyone in the long run.
By donating old items, someone else can purchase your items at a lower price that they may not have previously had access to. Also, you’ll be giving back to the planet by helping get more use out of your items and sending less items to the landfill. Most thrift stores also use their proceeds to support charities and other positive causes so you’ll be helping local families as well as the community.
2. Participate in a Food Drive
Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a few extra non-perishable food items such as canned goods and donate them to a local food drive. You can easily involve your child in this process by explaining to them that you’re giving food to those who need it more than you do. If your child likes to go to the grocery store with you, then you can even involve them by having them help you pick out canned goods to donate. Encourage them to pick out foods that they think others might like.
3. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Practice random acts of kindness whenever you see the opportunity to do so. Random acts of kindness can be as simple as holding the door for someone or leaving a generous tip at a restaurant. You can also go out of your way to help your neighbors by bringing their trash can in from the street or helping shovel snow out of their driveway. Even when your child is young, they will take note of these actions, and eventually, they will want to model you and help others in a similar way.
4. Reflect On and Discuss the Act of Serving Others
Communication is a surefire way to help your children understand the importance of serving others and getting involved in the community. Make sure to acknowledge your acts of service and discuss them openly with your children. Explain to your children that there are a lot of people in the world who have less than you do and that the least you can do is find small ways to help those around you.
Show your children how it feels good to have an impact on the lives of others and they will likely be motivated to follow in your footsteps. It is never too early to start talking about these concepts with your child, even if they’re still a baby. Although your baby may not entirely understand what you’re saying, you’ll start reinforcing the concept and you’ll be getting yourself used to discussing community service with your child and making it a frequent household discussion.
5. Embrace Your Local Community
Help neighbors and friends regularly. As parents, it is incredibly important to integrate into your local community as best you can. Having friends and supportive individuals near you goes a long way when you have children. Go out of your way to do something kind for someone around you such as cooking a meal for another local family, helping an elderly neighbor bring in their groceries, or picking up trash at a local park or beach. The more you can get out and get involved with those who live close to you, the stronger the sense of community, support, and security everyone will feel.
Kid-Friendly Community Service Projects
When it does come time for your child to actually participate in their own volunteering opportunities, you can choose from a number of simple, age-appropriate methods of giving back. Depending on your child’s age, you’ll likely need to accompany them when they go to volunteer. Some of our favorite kid-friendly community service projects include volunteering at an animal shelter, participating in a park or beach clean-up, signing up for a run or walk, and spending time in a nursing home.
Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter
Most children love animals so volunteering at your local animal shelter or humane society is a great way for your child to serve the community. Children can help at animal shelters in a variety of ways. Find out if your local shelter is in need of any specific supplies such as towels, food, or blankets. See if you have any of these items already laying around your house and drop them off next time you’re nearby. Your child can also help at the shelter by walking dogs or just spending time with the animals to provide comfort.
Participate in a Trash Pick Up
Picking up litter at your local park or beach is an act of service that you can teach your child to participate in from a very young age. Attend an organized beach or park clean-up and bring your child along. You can also look for litter on your own when visiting the park or beach. Keep an extra grocery bag in your car or purse so that you can pick up trash when you see it while visiting the park or beach. Even young children enjoy participating in trash pickups and you’re teaching them a valuable lesson in respecting the planet.
Sign Up for a Run or Walk
One community event that even babies can be a part of is a 5K run or walk. These races are a great way to get out into the community and support a positive cause, while also getting some exercise. Most races donate their proceeds to a local charity. Find a race in your area that supports a cause that resonates with you, or you can let your child choose. If your child is still a toddler or baby, you can bring them along and have them ride in the stroller while you run or walk.
Spend Time at a Nursing Home
Living in a nursing home is not always the most ideal situation for senior citizens, so nursing home residents really appreciate visits from others, especially children. Bring your child with you to volunteer at a nursing home and it is sure to put a smile on a lot of people’s faces. You can bring along some board games, books, or movies to give the nursing home residents some fun new activities. Simply visit the nursing home to offer some company to the residents or sign up to volunteer regularly. Volunteers at nursing homes can play many different roles but you may help the residents with daily activities or help with food preparation.
How to Build Community as a Family
It can be easy to feel alone when in the midst of raising young children. Unfortunately, parenting can be an isolating job, especially for stay-at-home parents. Participating in a kid-friendly community service project is only one of the many ways to get out of your comfort zone and connect with those who live near you. Here are a few additional tips to help you build community as a family.
Get Out of the House Regularly
Especially when kids are young, it can be easy to get cooped up in the house because staying home often feels like the easier option. However, it is so important for you to make it a habit to get out of the house regularly, even with children. Yes, it can be challenging and some outings can be stressful but getting out of the house is great for your own sanity and may even lead you to meeting other families and making friends. Some activities to try include: visiting your local library, taking your child to play at the park, going out for a walk in nature, or having lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Befriend Local Families and Neighbors
Making new friends as an adult can often seem challenging but having a child can actually make it a little easier. Spark up a conversation with some of the parents next time your child is playing at the park. If you happen to meet any parents that are easy to get along with, you could propose planning a playdate with your kids or just meeting up at the park again soon.
Parents are given the power to make the world a better place by raising kind and loving individuals who have a strong set of personal values. Giving back to the community is one important value that can be instilled in children very early on. Incorporate some kid-friendly community service projects into your family’s agenda to help educate your children while offering a helping hand to those who need it the most.