By Catherine Griffin
Volunteering is a beautiful thing for your budding teenager. It’ll do wonders for them as they evolves towards active citizenship, and it sure looks compelling in their college application and resume.
Encouraging your teenage child to volunteer, however, isn’t going to be an easy sell. At this stage in their lives, they already have their plate full with schoolwork and are starting to worry about teen issues. The following six ways can come in handy when you want to give your teenager a little push to start volunteering.
(1) Start Early
As a responsible parent, you need to instill the virtue of volunteerism in your child when she’s still young. For kids who have never volunteered, giving some of their time to help may seem like a chore rather than an act of kindness. So, encourage your little one to volunteer frequently as soon as she enters middle school.
(2) Give Them Freedom They Need
Teens can be rebellious if pushed. Well, how would you feel if someone is always breathing down your neck? You’ve to learn to trust your child to do the right thing. How else would a teenager learn to act responsibly if not given the opportunity?
To encourage your teen to volunteer, you need to grant her autonomy. You want to give your teenager the right tools to become a change-maker. By trusting her, she will be motivated enough to take charge and volunteer.
Voluntourism is another volunteering concept that has gained incredible traction recently. It might seem a little out of the box for some parents, but it can encourage your teen to volunteer without much fuss. Primarily, you will spend your vacation volunteering and help the needy instead of soaking up the sun on the beach.
For the past couple of years, families have been spending their vacation times moving from one volunteer spot to another. These family adventure trips combine exciting, fun activities such as safaris, horseback riding and hiking, with the chance to give back and connect to the very communities visited. Each trip is designed to meet the expectations of teenagers.
(4) Be a Role Model
If you want your child to start volunteering, you have to lead by example. Your teen might not have been keen to listen to you, but they will not fail to imitate you. In fact, it is something biological, not psychological. I won’t delve deeper into the science behind this, but volunteering as an example to your child does the trick. The bottom line is don’t expect your teenager to do what you wouldn’t do yourself.
(5) Recognize Their Efforts
The last thing you want is for your teen to feel invisible even when doing volunteer work. It is a sure-fire motivation killer. That is why it pays to communicate to your child that her work is making a huge difference in society.
(6) Show Empathy
A teenager will not try to understand if she doesn’t feel understood. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for most teenagers. That is why it is crucial that you show them empathy. It implies feeling what your teen is feeling. If she’s struggling with teenage issues, you need to empathize and connect on a more personal level.
10 Simple Acts of Kindness/Volunteer for Teenagers:
#1. Donate Old Books to a Library
Teenagers have a backlog of school books that can be of more use to others. You can encourage him or her to drop off some of these old books at a children’s hospital or local library.
#2. Give Blood
Teens are full of energy and virility and donating blood is one of the best acts of kindness. A good place to start the donation journey is by checking out a local Red Cross for more information.
#3. Stand Up Against Bullying
Teenagers have what it takes to stand up for those being bullied. It will sure feel right to do so especially if you were bullied yourself. That doesn’t mean that the teenager becomes aggressive or physically violent, but stand up to the bully.
#4. Hold to Door for Others
Acts of kindness don’t have to be something big. It can be something as small as holding the door for someone else.
#5. Feed the Birds
You need to ask an animal expert about what food are permitted to feed the birds. A teen can use her allowance to buy these feeds from the pet store.
#6. Volunteer at a Shelter or Soup Kitchen
You can serve food, clean, and even donate some of the food.
#7. Teach Kids Math or How to Read
A teenager can volunteer her time to teach a struggling child how to read or solve math problems.
#8. Pick Up Litter
She can pick up litter around the neighborhood, school or even on the bus
#9. Walk a dog for a senior
#10. Play Video Games for Charity
Teenagers love video game – so why not play for charity?