|Written by Kristie Raburn|
Everywhere you go these days, you hear about the need for volunteers, becoming a role model, acting as a mentor or just helping someone out. Getting your teen to understand the power of charity is not difficult. Here are several things you can do to get them interested in volunteering for the benefit of others.Â
1. Be an example: Teens watch what you do and what their friends do. They possess an attitude of adventure, idealism and fresh perspective. By watching you volunteer, they can see how happy and gratifying it is to you and may want to have the same feeling.
2. Offer Several Choices: what does your teen like to do? Do they enjoy helping little kids with sports or like spending time with the elderly? Or do they enjoy taking others to the movies or sharing a good book? Think about what your teenâ€™s hobbies are, check around at schools, senior centers, after school centers, and see if your teenâ€™s hobby could become an activity that others will enjoy too.
3. Give a Slight Push: if a first they are resistant, try again. Sometimes they need extra time to get use to the idea of doing something for nothing, especially in a society where money is the motivating factor. Find a center that needs their help and take your teen with you to check it out. They will be more willing to go if they know they can always change their mind if they feel uncomfortable.Â
4. Let him bring a Friend: things are scary when you do not know anyone. Allowing a teen to bring a friend and share his experience with someone he know will help the jitters disappear.
5. Start Small: Don't make a long term commitment. Allow your teen to try it on his terms but suggest he make an honest effort to see if he likes it. Studies have showing it takes doing something twenty-one times before it becomes a habit.Â Be willing to try again. For many reasons, the first attempt at volunteering may fail. Either the fit is not right, the timing is wrong or interests change. They can always try something else. In my experiences, by volunteering at the hospital, I learned I would faint at the sight of blood. By volunteering at the library, I learned I did not enjoy teaching others how to read. Both experiences taught me I enjoy being behind the scenes, working with paper or things rather than people. So now I enjoy writing newsletters for nonprofits organizations, doing data entry after hours or brightening up the day of a service member by sending a small package of treats oversees.Â Â Â
6. Try Listening: Overcoming hesitation in your teen can be a simple as listening to them.If being around strangers is not your teenâ€™s idea of fun, suggest sending package to troops oversees, collecting blankets for the homeless or playing with the children of a single mother one afternoon a week. A task that is comfortable and familiar to the teen will generally be done more than once. Several volunteer organizations need volunteers behind the scenes as well as in the public eye.
Allowing your teen to make his or her own commitment will make the process more fun for everyone. They will soon feel the satisfaction of helping others and may learn some life skills in the process.