November 2, 2016

Try these 5 tips for teaching children the value of volunteerism and how to give back to the community.


Volunteering with your children is an awesome way to teach them about giving back. I’ve been in the social work field for more than 15 years and know firsthand just how important it is to give back. Blame it on working for nonprofits all those years, but I know that a lot of programs would suffer without volunteers. Because of my work background, I have had the chance to take my children with me to show them that it is better to give then to receive.

That can be easier said than done sometimes, but volunteering doesn’t have to be daunting.  Just an hour or two a week will make a huge difference in the lives our those around you and your community.

Here are five ways to encourage your children to embrace community service:

1. Make sure the activity is age-appropriate and fun.

When looking for activities to do with your child, make sure it’s something you can do together as a family. This is especially helpful for young children. You don’t want to do anything that will feel, to them, like “work.”  For older kids, try coordinating something for them together with their friends. My oldest daughter and her friend volunteered at a retired veterans’ home and had a blast playing bingo and spending quality time with the residents.

2. Let your child share her talents.

Do your children have talents that they could help foster in other kids? Might they volunteer with others to help them learn a new skill or talent? It could be dance, music, the arts — the possibilities are endless.

3. Be a positive role model.

Children learn by example. When they see you taking an active role in your community and volunteering your time, they will realize the importance of giving back. Once it becomes a part of your lifestyle, it will seem like second nature to them.

4. Let your child be the leader.

Ask your children what type of things they would like to do. Provide a list of options and let them pick.  They might surprise you by selecting things you don’t expect.

5. Recap the experience.

Give praise once your child has finished volunteering and ask what he thought of the experience. Discuss what was learned, how she helped out and what could be done in the future to make the experience even better.

If showing compassion and giving to others is a part of their upbringing, it’s easier for children to make it a consistent habit in adulthood.  It will soon become the norm, and not the exception, for your family.

This post was written by Alisha Lampley. A former social worker, Alisha retired to focus on her family and began blogging as a way to share her natural hair journey, musings about motherhood and marriage and her passion for food and wine. She and her husband, Jeff, have two daughters.