Paying It Forward Starts at Home
Play matters! All kids deserve a chance to play. Yet many of today’s kids – especially the 16 million living in poverty – aren’t getting the balanced and active play they need to thrive.
Valpak is proud to announce we’re teaming up with the nonprofit KaBOOM! to “ensure that kids have the opportunity to play every day, everywhere.” Since 1995, KaBOOM! has constructed more than 2,000 playgrounds in North America and inspired a movement for children’s rights to play.
The “Valpak Saves” campaign hopes to raise awareness and support KaBOOM!’s mission to inspire play and healthy living within our communities. Throughout the year we will be providing helpful ideas on how you can incorporate play into your everyday life.
This week, DealPro Melissa King shares her tips on how to encourage your children to get involved in acts of kindness and volunteering in their local communities.
Humility. Compassion. Kindness. Generosity. These are all traits that we would like for our kids to develop, but sometimes words can just go in one ear and out the other. Especially if you are raising pre-teens and young adults, it can often feel like they are completely consumed by their own personal world with little regard for people outside their close circle. How can you encourage these admirable characteristics in a way that will be meaningful? What will it take for your child to choose a benevolent and giving attitude? For many kids, it takes practice and experience to truly learn these characteristics and to see firsthand the circumstances that put others in a less fortunate position.
By getting your children involved in acts of kindness, volunteering or contributing to a charity at a young age, they will have more opportunities to develop understanding, acceptance and gratitude for their blessings. Although there are plenty of agencies and organizations that provide help and support to those who need it, putting these practices to good use can happen anywhere, at any time, even if it’s right in your own neighborhood.
Set An Example
First and foremost, children learn by example, so if you want your kids to freely express loving acts of kindness to others, you must provide them with positive influence and encouragement. If your children have the opportunity to see you being charitable, then this type of behavior will become a normal part of their life routine.
If your children are of school age, volunteer for the PTA. If that is not your style, offer to bring snacks for your child’s classroom, help the teacher make copies, or conduct a story time. Not only will your acts of kindness be helpful to the person with a full plate, but it will also give you more opportunities to become involved in your child’s educational experiences.
Follow up this involvement by giving a little bit of your extra time to the people who help with your child’s organized sports or extracurricular activities. Again, not only will you be doing someone a huge favor by offering up help, but you’ll simultaneously be present and involved in your child’s life.
Get your kids involved in the giving by volunteering together. Assist a neighbor with yard work, offer to do the grocery shopping for an elderly friend, create care packages for soldiers or a homeless shelter. When you are out and about, encourage your children to hold doors for others, help someone load purchases into their car, or allow the busy mom with her hands full, to pass you in the checkout. Although these acts are small, things like this help to establish sincerity and kindness. Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
This personal narrative is brought to you by yours truly: I’ll never forget the busy Saturday that I had my hands more than full with an infant in the chest carrier, a toddler crying in the cart, and groceries stacked above my eyeballs. A very kind and generous family with 3 strong boys offered to help push my cart and load my groceries while I buckled my very unhappy young ones into their car seats. I don’t think that family will ever understand the magnitude of their generosity that day. Teach your kids to be kind to others so they will have a chance to make a difference.
Aside from the general acts of kindness, there are plenty of organizations that offer family volunteering opportunities. Serve a meal together at the Salvation Army, man the snack table at a blood drive for the American Red Cross, or sort cans at your local food bank. Make it a family effort to deliver meals to homebound citizens.
Once you have set the example for your kids by volunteering or giving together, you can help them to find the most appropriate and fulfilling opportunities for giving or contributing solo. After all, if your kids are not receiving the emotional satisfaction from helping others, chances are they will not continue to be a very good sport about it for long.
Keep in mind that many organizations have age restrictions, but that shouldn’t stop your kid(s) from finding somewhere they can freely give and contribute. Check out your local library, area nursing homes, humane society, museums or other nonprofit organizations. These places are almost always in need of assistance with general cleaning and organizing, but there are other opportunities like making crafts, reading, entertaining or simply being present. That is enough to make someone else’s day.
Financial Gift Giving
If you are having a hard time finding a local venue where your child can physically give of their time, charities are always in need of financial gifts to maintain general operations. Help your child set up a lemonade stand, pop up art table or summer lawn care service so that some (or all) of that money can be given to an organization of their choice. Although giving money is certainly very admirable, kids are more likely to respond positively when they can see the fruits of their efforts. When they actually get to experience the joy of helping someone else, it gives the idea of volunteering a much greater purpose.
Encourage your child to give without the expectation of payment. They will eventually learn that rewards in the form of triumphs, smiles, hugs and appreciation from those that they have helped are priceless.
Join us in supporting this worthy cause! For as little as $5, you can help Valpak and KaBOOM! give kids the playful childhood they deserve. Give today at kaboom.org/valpak.