Teach Your Kids to Do Good
If you want your child to grow up to be a hero, first be a hero yourself.
(MONEY Magazine) – • SET THE RIGHT EXAMPLE The single biggest influence on whether your children develop community spirit is you. Parents who routinely help others--by doing yard work for elderly neighbors, coaching a team or donating old clothing--drive home the importance of personal involvement in good works.
• ENCOURAGE THEIR INTERESTS Talk to your kids about what's going on in the world and pay attention to what moves them, such as news reports about a natural disaster or seeing stray cats in the neighborhood. Then look for ways to foster those interests--say, taking them to drop off relief supplies at the local Red Cross chapter or visiting an animal shelter together. "Most children naturally want to reach out and help others," says Deborah Spaide, author of Teaching Your Kids to Care. "But they may need a hand finding a way to act on that impulse."
• SKIP THE FUND RAISERS Many groups ask kids to help raise money, whether it's a walkathon for a charity or selling candy for their school. But children, especially young ones, often don't get the connection between raising money and helping others, says Spaide.
• MAKE IT PERSONAL Instead, get your children involved in an activity where they actually meet the people they are helping. Maybe they can visit elderly patients in a nursing home, distribute toys to pediatric patients in a hospital or serve dessert at a soup kitchen.
• VOLUNTEER TOGETHER Young people who volunteer with their family are more likely to volunteer as adults, studies show. Plus, you get to show your kid what you're really made of. In daily life, Mom and Dad are nag machines. When your kids see you working for a greater good, you are transformed in their eyes.