Both fortunately and unfortunately for us, kids are like sponges. They pick up on the things that we do, both good and bad. Future giving patterns are malleable at a young age, both with the time they’ll give and the donations they’ll make in the future. That’s why it’s important to not only talk with your children and teens about volunteering, but to actually practice what you preach. As they continue to grow and develop, it’s a critical time to establish good habits early on. Check out how your family can get started building the next generation of do-gooders, and why it’s important to lead by doing.
Lead by Example
“Because I said so” might work when sending your child to their room, but it doesn’t necessarily carry the same weight when talking about volunteering versus actually doing the work. Don’t get us wrong—telling your children how to live an altruistic lifestyle is a great step in making the world a better place. However, sometimes you have to “walk the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.”
When your entire family gets together to do volunteer work, it is setting an example for the future your child will create. Habits form over time. On average, it can take two months for a habit to form. By starting to volunteer monthly with your children, you’re making it more likely that they’ll continue volunteerism in the future. Soon enough, volunteering will be a habit that you’ve helped them form.
How to Get Started
Start by involving your children in selecting an organization. Involving them in the decision will help you find out more about their interests and give you a glimpse into who they might grow up to become. Start with some organizations that you have supported over the years and explain why they mean so much to you. Then, try to use their interests or your mutual interests to pick a cause to support.
Remember that you can always spread the love and volunteer at multiple organizations until your family finds the right fit. Or, you could form a tradition where your family finds a new organization to volunteer with each month. No matter where you decide to give your time, it helps to keep a routine such as carving out time the second Saturday of every month. Meet as a family and decide what works best.
The final and hardest part is simply showing up. Set the example and don’t let excuses creep in. While life happens, it’s important to lead by example and continue to meet the commitments that you set for yourself and your family. Remember that your children are watching everything we do and taking mental notes whether we realize it or not. Set manageable goals, and you’ll be on your way to building those good habits.
The Perks of Volunteering at a Young Age
The main reason to give back as a family is to do good in the world and establish giving habits for years to come with your children. However, there are plenty of other reasons to start their altruistic efforts at a young age, including:
- Spending more quality time as a family.
- Developing future giving patterns.
- Adding to future job or college applications.
- Helping youth find new interests and passions.
These are just a few reasons to start giving back together. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The good you put out into the world will not only benefit the organization you’re volunteering with, but also will leave your family feeling good about the positive work you’ve accomplished together. It’s time to walk the walk with your volunteer efforts to show your kids what you can accomplish together. You’ll get more time with the family, plus help to build the future generation of philanthropists.