Kids always want stuff. More, more, more! As parents, what do we need to do to raise kids who are not leading the "Gimme Generation" but rather the "Giving Generation?"
I haven't met a parent yet who doesn't want to raise a caring kid. In fact, even amidst the tough economic times, it is interesting to read a recent PARADE magazine poll reporting that Americans are in a "compassion boom." Not only is volunteerism on the rise, 90% of Americans surveyed by PARADE said "they are working hard to teach their children the importance of activism." This is great, particularly since other studies have shown when volunteerism is part of young kids' lives, they have greater self-esteem, pride, and continue to volunteer as they get older.
The PARADE article goes on to say that parents try to teach their kids about being charitable in a variety of ways: leading by example, talking about important issues and causes, discussing their own philanthropic pursuits, taking kids to volunteer meetings, urging them to follow role models committed to changing our world, and donating their own money.
The thing is this: It's not that I don't believe what the fine survey takers are saying. I do. But, who among us hasn't heard ourselves or our friends scream, "I am so busy!?" How do we fit one more thing into our hectic lives? We need convenience!
So here is a new way to think about community service: make "giving experiences" part of your every day routine. What is a giving experience? To me, it is any teachable, memorable, or enjoyable moment -- big or small -- that reinforces the value of giving back for kids and parents. And the best part is...there is no reason why a giving experience can't be easy! Here are a few ideas for building giving experiences into your life.
Overall, make the experience fun and participate enthusiastically with your kids! Kids like to model your behavior and want to make you proud. Most important, do what works for your family. Just find time during the year to do something. Big or small, a giving experience can change your life, your kid's life, and the life of someone completely unexpected. And wouldn't it be something if we all heard from our kids a little less of the "What can I get" refrain and a little more of the "What can I give?"
Motivate kids where they live - online! Become part of KidzPlace! -- a global, online networking site where parent post their kids' giving experiences and give them a virtual high five at the same time. (It's free, secure, and user- friendly.) In celebration of the launch of KidzPlace!, the first 100 people to post their kid' kind acts will receive a free Act of Kindness community service kit($8 value) that includes a unique and fun activity that is doable at home in 1-2 hours. Each kit includes complete instructions from a supply list to suggested donation recipients. Go to http://www.kidzplace.yeskidzcan.com to applaud your kids' kind acts, and get your free kit!
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