There are many reasons why any parent should want to raise children that are kind, generous, respectful and responsible members of their community. Not only will this build habits that will last a lifetime, but also it creates many positive feelings in the child. Research has even shown that being generous can raise endorphin levels in the brain, thus improving mood and reducing stress. However, just because you want to raise children like this does not mean that it will be an easy task. Here are a few tips that you can use from the moment your child has an awareness of the world around him to teach awareness of the community as well as numerous character qualities.
- Talk about how to be a proud and responsible member of your community. Point out when you see others acting the right way. Tell your children why they should be generous, kind, responsible and caring to others, even those who think or believe differently than they do.
- Be sure that your children see you donating your time and money. Your teaching will have to be more than just talk to make an impact on these young lives. Give to your church every week, regularly donate to a local food pantry, give of your time to volunteer in the elementary school that your children attend or work at a soup kitchen over holidays.
- Teach your children to be involved from a young age. Not only should they see you doing tasks or spending money on behalf of your community, but also they should being using their time and talents for the same cause as well. Even from the age of three, children can learn to be hospitable and helpful to their neighbors, to give of their time, to pick up trash in the local park and to give gifts to those in need.
- Make sure that you keep the project fun. Children can quickly get bored by activities that they do not enjoy and may grow to hate the idea of giving back to the community. However, most communities offer a variety of fun projects that are great for families, such as planting flowers or trees on Earth Day. For example, entrepreneur Neill Sullivan Oakland provides similar projects for beautifying his community. Churches, schools and communities also frequently offer ways to give back, such as by adopting a needy family or collecting coats for the needy during the winter.
- As your children get older, they may have certain opinions about what they like to do and how they like to get involved in their communities. Remember that every child has certain talents, interests and things that they are good at doing. By putting these natural tendencies to work, it will be far easier for parents to build lasting habits in their children while also keeping volunteering time fun.
- Children should also learn what it means to sacrifice from an early age. Children can sacrifice some of their toys or clothes by donating them to a non-profit that supports the needy. Children can also sacrifice time that they would rather have spent in playing or being with their friends to do something for those around them instead.
Of course, the way that you teach and lead your children towards being good members of the community will certainly change as your children grow older. You may need to use new teaching techniques, talk about monetary challenges with giving back and search out new experiences around your community. However, by working together from a young age, any child can learn how to be generous with his or her time and resources and will grow up being proud of his community and acting as a good citizen.