How, and Why, to Find Volunteer Opportunities for Your Kids

Follow these tips to instill a commitment to charity and volunteering in your kids from an early age.

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That feeling you get after giving back to your community? Your kids can appreciate it, too, and, as parents, it’s our job to get them started down the path of volunteering. In fact, according to a 2010 poll, most teenagers say their parents are the biggest influence on whether or not they give to charity.

Giving and volunteering have their own benefits: both can actually help boost your children’s self-esteem, build their confidence and shape their values. Not to mention that, as they grow, they’ll naturally notice how you spend your time and money. If they see you giving, they’ll be much more likely to follow suit as adults.

With that in mind, here’s a timeline for helping even the littlest tykes blossom into pint-size philanthropists.

Taking Baby Steps (Ages 3 – 8)

Experts say you can start introducing philanthropy to your child when she’s old enough to understand the idea of caring and give and take, which could be as young as three or four. Stick to introducing the basic themes that apply to charitable work, like:

  • Cooperation
  • Sharing
  • Respect for individual property
  • Recognizing and dealing with emotions
  • Selfishness and selflessness

To help her connect the idea of philanthropy with actual activities, point out local heroes in your community and talk about why they’re important. Also look into social groups with a focus on caring, sharing and helping–like your local 4-H or Boys & Girls Clubs of America.