I am featuring this great post today of ‘Learning to Give Back: Children and Service (Volunteering)’ contributed by Clark Burbidge, author of Giants in the Land Trilogy. Make sure you catch my review post of the Giants in the Land Trilogy that I did this fall! You will find that this series is great for the pre-ten to teenager that teach them great lessons about leadership and respect for authority and those in their lives who guide them and their peers.
A lesson often overlooked in the growth of a child is the need to volunteer to help others or give back to the community. While sharing is usually stressed at school and in the home, we can overlook talking about the value of a child sharing their time and contributing work to make something or someone’s life better. This can teach a child to pay closer attention to the world around them and consider others more deeply. It can also help them learn to work in groups and follow rules given to complete a task. Most of all it teaches a child the value of placing others’ needs before their own.
Here are a few tips to help inspire your child to volunteer and become a role-model in your community:
1) Give them choices Allowing your child to choose the type of service helps them take title and responsibility for their decisions and follow through. There are opportunities at food banks, animal shelters, schools and with neighbors. Having choices, and counselling with them as they make the final decision will empower your child from the very start.
2) Start out with something fun Make sure that the opportunities you pick have an element of fun, so that your child can learn to love serving others and work up to the more difficult jobs. Working at an animal shelter by playing with the pets or taking the animals for a walk or helping an elderly neighbor with simple chores are examples of starting with something manageable and fun.
3) Serve side-by-side Have you ever noticed it’s easier to get your child to do something if you offer to work together? Make sure that they’re not doing this alone. Support your child by volunteering with them and doing the same work that they do. A friendly presence and positive words will help the first few times volunteering fly by for your child. Long after they have forgotten the nature of the service they will remember that you did it with them. If you can’t volunteer with them, have your child volunteer with a friend. Having a parent or friend as a role model for their actions will inspire your child to work harder and continue to return.
4) Emphasize the benefits Talk about the benefits of volunteering. Make sure that your child knows why they’re doing what they’re doing and the difference it will make for those served. Show them who their work is helping and talk about what their life would be like without the volunteer work. Help them to understand the difference between self-benefits which will surely be present and the benefits that others receive from the service. This perspective will bring a better understanding of compassion in a world that sometimes only talks about passion. Compassion is a much more powerful and uplifting characteristic and worthy of effort to develop.
About the Author
Clark Burbidge received an MBA degree from the University of Southern California and a BS degree in finance from the University of Utah. His career spans 34 years in banking, project finance, investment banking, and more recently as a Chief Financial Officer. He has been actively involved in community and church service, including lay youth and adult ministry, for over 38 years. His first book, Life on the Narrow Path: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Spiritual Growth in Troubled Times was released nationally in 2011. His works A Piece of Silver: A Story of Christ (2012) and the Giants in the Land (2012 & 2013) Young Adult Fiction trilogy Books One and Two have been recognized with several international awards including Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medals as the top books in the world in their categories.