Getting kids to volunteer or do service projects can seem like pulling teeth. How am I supposed to teach my child the value of serving others if he groans and mumbles and complains the whole time?
Attitude is everything. If you have an attitude that you are making your kids volunteer, it will transfer to them! Kids of any age (especially preteens and teenagers) don’t like to be forced to do things against their will. Even when you’re “forcing” them to do something that is good for them and is serving their neighbor, they might be resistant.
One way you can combat this is by letting your child pick her own service project! Have her come up with ideas of people to serve or things to do that interest her and would help others. Whether your child is athletic, creative, or techy, you can put your minds together to come up with an idea that allows him to use his gifts for good! Plus, identifying ways your child can serve using his unique talents opens up a conversation about vocations and future careers!
If you’re struggling to find service project ideas for your kids, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Making cards or posters is a great way for kids to be creative (especially in those cold winter months when playing outside is limited!). Ask your pastor for the names of some shut-in members or members in nursing homes, and make cards for them! If you’re able, go visit the recipients and deliver the cards yourself.
I know this is the most cliché service project for kids in the fall, but there’s a reason it’s so popular. Raking leaves requires little skill, and there’s a huge pile of leaves to jump in at the end—win-win!
Visiting with shut-ins
I vividly remember my mom taking my sister and me along to visit with a shut-in member of our church when I was little. We’d go to her house, eat her homemade cookies, and play with her cat. She and my mom would chat, but I think having two young kids there brought her just as much joy as her conversations with my mom.
Serving holiday meals
During the holidays, there are always opportunities to serve a wide variety of people in need. Help serve the holiday meal at a food pantry or homeless shelter, or host a thanksgiving meal at your church for those people who don’t have family in the area.
What volunteer projects have you done with your children? How have you encouraged them to use their unique talents to serve others? Share with us in the comments!