Encouraging Your Child to Volunteer
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston S. Churchill. Most parents don’t just want their children to be successful but also for them to pick up important values and live a happy and fulfilling life. This Christmas season, we encourage you to share the gift of giving with your children through volunteering – this gift reaps more than what you sow!
Why should I encourage my child to volunteer?
Build connections with others
Volunteering creates opportunities for your child to meet a diverse group of people from different backgrounds or like-minded individuals passionate about similar activities and interests. By spending time with others, your child can learn to foster empathy, learn how to respect others, and grow more confident.
Volunteering teaches children that the world is more than just their home or school and that even they can do something that benefits their community. By being little change-makers, children can learn to be more thoughtful and appreciative, and be motivated to wonder, “What can I do to help?”
If they have spent time with low-income families, they may be more likely to first think about donating clothes or books instead of throwing them away. Children who have participated in environmental initiatives like picking up trash or planting trees may pick up eco-conscious habits.
Learn new skills
Children can learn many different things when exposed to different environments and situations. Critical thinking, time management, and teamwork are just the tip of the iceberg.
With endless possibilities, such as volunteering at animal shelters, go-green initiatives, and after-school programmes, volunteering is the perfect way for your child to find out what they like and are good at. They may even be inspired to pursue a specific career!
Self-esteem and mental health
Giving our time to people or causes that need it most helps us feel good about ourselves. Scientific research has shown that compared to those who don’t, people who volunteer tend to have higher well-being, general self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to complete a task or achieve a goal), social connectedness and self-esteem!
In our digitally saturated world, volunteering also encourages children to lead a balanced lifestyle by giving them more options for activities (aside from watching television or playing video games).
As someone who volunteered with underprivileged children in my teen years, I experienced these benefits first-hand. I made many new friends through volunteering, and we learned a lot from each other by swapping stories and tips. Spending time with the children and planning events like camps was not only fun, but it also pushed me to be more thoughtful, gain confidence in myself, and pick up leadership skills along the way. It was definitely a fulfilling and meaningful way to spend my Saturday mornings (though it was rather challenging to wake up early rather than sleep in)!
Need ideas on where to volunteer?
Food Bank Juniors Club (https://foodbank.sg/juniors-club/)
Check out some ad-hoc volunteering opportunities and activities held every quarter during the school holidays for children aged 5 to 12.
Willing Hearts (https://willinghearts.org.sg/get-involved/)
Tasks include preparing ingredients, packing lunch boxes, and cleaning cooking utensils. Families are encouraged to volunteer together! While there are no specific age limits, parents are responsible for the well-being and safety of their children.
Trash Hero Singapore (https://www.facebook.com/TrashHeroSingapore/)
Learn about waste and rubbish’s impact on the global environment and do your part by keeping Singapore’s shorelines trash-free. There is no specified minimum age for volunteers.
Check out giving.sg for more volunteer opportunities for your family to spend a meaningful Christmas season together – well… all seasons, really! Happy holidays!