Volunteering is a noble act that brings joy and fulfillment to both the giver and the receiver. And when it comes to children, the perks of volunteering go beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling it provides; it also helps instill valuable life lessons and skills that will benefit them in the long run.
Despite its significance, however, many Americans do not volunteer. A 2017 study found that only 25% of Americans volunteer annually, with the majority doing it during the holidays. Yet volunteering needs no special occasion. A natural disaster or tragedy does not necessitate volunteering, and incorporating it into your routine will not only benefit the community you serve but will also provide benefits for you and your children.
Here is all you need to know about the health advantages of volunteering, including how it may boost your social and emotional well-being and help your child develop.
1. Volunteering Can Enhance Personality and Improve Relationships
It’s vital for people of all ages to develop character and strengthen relationships, but it’s especially crucial for children to develop these qualities. These social skills will benefit your children now and throughout their lives. These will also help them become well-rounded individuals.
This is significant, according to Kelley Kitley, LCSW of Serendipidous Psychotherapy. When children serve, they interact with other volunteers and members of the community they are serving. “Volunteering brings together children with diverse backgrounds and interests for the common purpose of helping others. When people can remove boundaries and express themselves really, connection occurs, “he adds. Also, volunteering can improve existing ties and bonds.
Enhances Social Skills
Learning how to collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds is a life skill. “When children serve together, they focus on something greater than themselves or each other. They collaborate to execute a mission in which they serve others,” Kelley adds. There will be numerous opportunities for your child to practice listening and communicating, whether they are interacting with the people they are working with or the community at large.
2. Volunteering Improves One’s Overall Health And Empathy
Although many children are naturally sympathetic — caring for one another lovingly and respectfully – volunteering can educate them to be even more compassionate and sensitive. Also, it can enhance their mood and general welfare.
Whether you volunteer by delivering canned goods to a food drive or by serving a meal at your local community center, your children will witness and experience empathy in action. It teaches children compassion and helps them recognize their blessings. Yet despite the fact that they may not be in need themselves, it might be humbling for them to observe and hear the many conditions and challenges the community members they are assisting have endured. It’s a true test of the gut.
While the concept of enhancing your child’s welfare may appear to be a catch-all (spoiler alert: it is), it is also true. Volunteering provides many children and adults with a sense of purpose. People discover that giving back ignites a light in their soul, or something higher than themselves, which improves their general happiness and sense of self. Volunteering enables children to step outside of themselves and discover a sense of purpose, according to Kelley. Also, it helps kids to practice being a leader, which contributes to a healthy sense of self.
3. Volunteering Offers Mental Health Benefits
Whether or not your child is battling with mental health, volunteering has countless positive effects on mental health.
Volunteering is not a panacea for mental health issues, but it fosters feelings of appreciation and well-being. Helen Egger, a child psychiatrist, early childhood mental health researcher, and co-founder of the family mental health platform Little Otter, discusses the mental health benefits of volunteering for children. “Volunteering can help children distract themselves from what is giving them worry. There is a gratitude that comes with volunteer work that will drive you to do more for others and prevent you from feeling unhappy,” she continues.
Combats Depression and Anxiety
According to the non-profit mental health resource HelpGuide, volunteering helps lower anxiety and depression symptoms. With regular social interaction and the development of a strong support system, volunteering keeps you out of depression.
4. Volunteering Increases Happiness, Satisfaction, and Pleasure
Despite the fact that enhanced happiness and joy may sound like pleasant, fuzzy sensations, children who have these experiences are more satisfied with their lives, and thus, they will take better care of all aspects of their health.
Increases Happiness and Contentment
Volunteering might involve offering your time to benefit the community or contributing commodities such as clothing, food, or toys. No of how your child chooses to volunteer, they will receive a dopamine and other feel-good chemicals boost. “Helping others gives you a sense of success, which can boost your self-esteem and pride,” adds Dr. Egger. In addition, research has demonstrated that volunteering is extremely rewarding. The more generous we are, the happier we are.
5. Volunteering May Benefit Your Physical Well-Being
Volunteering’s social and emotional benefits are well-known, but the act can also have physical benefits.
Increases Survival Rate
According to HelpGuide, research indicates that those who volunteer have a lower mortality risk than those who do not. “Older volunteers had a tendency for walking more, finding everyday tasks easier, being less likely to develop high blood pressure, and having better cognitive ability. Also, volunteering can reduce heart disease risk and the signs and symptoms of chronic pain.”
Whether your child decides to volunteer independently, with their school, or with you and your family, he or she will enjoy numerous benefits in addition to helping the community. One of the most effective methods to encourage your children to participate is to set a good example.
Establish a regular time for volunteer work. Even tiny contributions are valuable; organizing your own drive is unnecessary. There are numerous ways to be engaged, so have a conversation with your children and figure out what you can do together.
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