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How to get children to volunteer

Maria Fernandes

Last week we spoke about the importance and benefits of volunteering but how do we motivate students to take up volunteering?


Here are a few tips that could help

Define the purpose: Explaining the real purpose of why they should volunteer is a great way to motivate children. Telling them they will get extra credit for school or learn new skills will not always work. They must understand the real impact of volunteering. Try to explain to them how they can make a difference in the world. Give them a purpose and let them take it from there.
Allow them to be independent: Give them freedom to decide what volunteer work they want to do. No one likes being forced to do something. Letting them be independent can make them feel like they are trusted, and human nature is such that the more trust we place on a person, the more responsible they become.

Empathise with them: Parents often forget to empathise with their children. If children are not up to volunteering, do not dismiss them as being irresponsible and selfish. Try to understand where they are coming from and maybe, both of you can come to some sort of a compromise. Sometimes, empathy is all it takes to be able to motivate or encourage them to volunteer.

Lead by example: For your children to volunteer, first you as a parent need to do so. Children, especially teenagers, may not always listen to parents or elders. Yet, they may begin to imitate the actions of adults. If they see adults put their passion into good use, they will be inspired to do the same.

Incorporate fun in the activities: Most students think that volunteer work is boring, tiring and requires too much time and physical strength. Fun is one of the best motivators. Add fun to their volunteering opportunities by incorporating activities like games when visiting an aged or children’s home.

Provide positive feedback and recognise their efforts: Feeling unappreciated is the best way to kill motivation, especially when you are doing something that is actually making a difference. When you tell children you appreciate what they do, they tend to do more of it. Recognise your children’s efforts and they will work harder.

Create more opportunities for volunteer work and you can begin at home. Encourage them to spend time with old and sick relatives. Start sowing the seeds of service when they are young and they will definitely reap the benefits in the long run. They will grow up as well-rounded individuals that are competent, socially aware and useful members of society.

Universities and educational institutions too can show their appreciation of student volunteering efforts by giving them extra credit. Parents, educational institutions and universities should work together to inspire volunteering among the youth through programmes that are aimed at encouraging their civic behaviour.

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