How to Educate, Engage and Involve Your Child in Issues that Matter!Ah the joy of lending a hand! Dozens of students at our local food bank packing boxes of fresh produce, canned goods and healthy meals while loving the experience of giving back!
Do you feel like your children are detached from the issues impacting those around them?
Do you doubt if your child understands how fortunate he or she is?
Do you worry that your child does not show enough compassion for others or takes their life for granted?
Many parents have these same concerns, but there are ways to make your child more aware and compassionate about issues impacting others. One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is how to have compassion for others. We often tell our children to “put yourself in their shoes,” but what does that mean to a child really? How can they fully understand what those shoes feel like is they’ve never see them? As parents we pride ourselves on teaching our children valuable lessons and this proves to be one of the hardest ones to teach. To tackle this lesson pick an issue that affects their peers, such as child hunger in the U.S., and get them involved.
The first step to getting your child involved in child hunger outreach is to educate yourself on the issue. Consider these facts about hunger in the U.S.:
Alarming USDA Stats about Hunger
More than 50 million Americans live in food insecure households
More than 16 million of those impacted by food insecurity are children
We can begin to make our children aware of these types of issues when they are as young as four and five years of age, and get them involved in community outreach as early as six or seven years of age. In fact, the best way for kids to learn about these types of issues is by having them participate in community outreach with you. By watching you, your enthusiasm and compassion, your child will be able gain a better understanding of this issues and how it is impacting others.
Here are some simple ways to help your child understand the issue of hunger and encourage them to get involved:Gratification! Last week I worked at our local food bank and found dozens of kids and their parents there to lend a hand. Get involved in helping your child experience service, charity and compassion!
Find A Cause and Get Involved
This April, Walmart and ten of the most recognizable food companies in America — including Campbell’s Soup, ConAgra Foods, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Kraft Foods Group, Kellogg Company, Mondelez International, Nestlé USA, PepsiCo and Unilever — are joining together to make a positive impact in children’s lives by providing ways for millions of customers and associates to distribute $3 million in grants and generate more than 35 million meals. This initiative is part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to fight hunger through 2015.
From a list of more than 300 food banks from around the country, you and your child will have a chance to cast one vote per day for the food bank of your choice. The 100 winning food banks will share $3 million in grants to fund hunger relief programs, and will be announced in May. Go to Walmart.com/hunger to vote and make a pledge to volunteer in your community.
Talk About ItIt’s never to early to help your child learn to give!
Start these kinds of lessons with your kids when they are young. Explain to them what you are going to be doing and why it is important. Use age appropriate terminology and stress how hunger impacts kids just like them. Go online with them and look for opportunities to make a difference, such as the current campaign by Walmart at Walmart.com/hunger where you can vote for your local food bank to have chance to receive funding. Be sure to supervise them while they are on it, but using online tools will get them excited and engaged in the initiative. Let your child do something simple, like click to vote on the food bank. Ask them how they feel about voting and what they hope will happen. Facilitate conversation around this issue as much as possible while participating and when appropriate in your daily life.
Find a food bank that is closest to you and take your child with you to volunteer. Show them how enthusiastic you are about helping people in need in your community. Setting that example is unbelievably valuable. Children look to their parents to guide them and set an example.
If you are out in the world doing good things for other your child will pick-up on that too.
Encourage Your Child To Stay Involved
Keep the Momentum Going: Help your kids find the next project they want to take on. Visit a soup kitchen. Encourage them to start a food drive in their classroom. Look for other ways to get involved in your community.
Your child can learn from a young age how to appreciate the things they have and the importance of helping those who are less fortunate.
Helping them to understand hunger as an important issue will not only make your children more compassionate and tolerate, but will set a strong foundation for future community involvement and outreach!
For more parenting tips follow me on twitter @MicheleBorba or my blog, Dr. Borba’ Reality Check