Volunteering is an excellent way to help your teen foster a generous, caring spirit. Volunteer experiences will not only teach teens important lessons about empathy, responsibility and interpersonal communication, but they give your teen the opportunity to meet new friends and have fun in the process, too. Why not choose an organization that interests you both, and volunteer together? Here are four great reasons to volunteer with your son and daughter, along with ways you can get started.
1. It Teaches Them to Help Others
Assisting others in need is an obvious direct benefit of volunteering. Your son or daughter will get to see first-hand how their hard work, time or donations can make a difference. It also shows them the variety of ways they can help: by volunteering their time, a special skill they might have, or even just a care package of supplies.
Short on time but still want to help? Soup kitchens, halfway homes and animal shelters all need cleaning supplies. Go grocery shopping with your son or daughter, and put together individual care packages:
- Cleaning care package ideas: Bounty paper towels, Mr. Clean dish soap
- Self-care package ideas: Crest toothpaste, Secret or Old Spice deodorant, Always sanitary napkins or Tampax tampons (especially for women’s shelters), socks and underwear, and portable, nonperishable snacks (granola bars, bottled water)
Tip: Save on P&G products for your care packages (and for your own home) with print-at-home and digital coupons. Get them here!
2. It’s an Opportunity for the Two of You to Bond
Between school commitments and a social life, your teen’s schedule is probably brimming with every type of activity but one: quality time with you. Spending a few hours cleaning up a local park, delivering meals to senior citizens or sorting through clothing donations at a donation drop-off gives you a chance to talk and relate to one another. Plus, you now have volunteer experiences in common that you can discuss later on.
3. It Gives Them a Chance to Meet New People
Outside of school, extracurricular activities and a part-time job, your teen’s social circle is probably small. Volunteering for an organization gives them the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, which broadens their perspective on the world.
Tip: Help your teen find an organization that reflects their personal interests, and then encourage them to make friends with other teens who volunteer there. If your daughter excels at language arts or math, suggest an after-school reading or tutoring program where she can make a difference for a struggling student. If your son aspires to be a veterinarian, have him volunteer at the local animal shelter. That way, they are more likely to meet other teens who share their interests.
4. It’s a New Year’s Resolution You Can Actually Keep
Organizations see an influx of volunteers during the holiday season, but it quickly drops off after January. Make a resolution with your teen to volunteer at the place of their choice at least once a month throughout the year. Then stick with it by holding each other accountable. Doing so will encourage your teen to take responsibility and ownership. As a bonus, you’ll both keep a New Year’s resolution without having to join a gym.
Do you volunteer with your kids? What organizations do you work with, and how do you help? Share in the comments section below!