COLUMBUS, Ohio — Making a donation of time, items or money doesn't just benefit those in need, it can also help children develop connections with their community.
Research shows that involving your kids in the decision for where and how to give can have lifelong benefits.
Fourteen-year-old Jocelyn can speak to the joy of paying it forward. While in the hospital receiving treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Make-A-Wish offered to make her dreams come true. Instead of using the wish for herself, Jocelyn donated it back to the hospital to ensure that other patients going through similar journeys could stay connected and entertained using technology.
“When kids are going into the hospital, like me, they don’t want to be there and they know it’s going to be painful, physically and emotionally,” said Jocelyn. “I’ve always been taught that helping others matters. I hope that my gift not only helps other patients inside of the hospital get through their days, but inspires young people like me outside of the hospital to think about where they can make a difference, too.”
Research shows that giving back helps boost a kid's self-esteem, instills a sense of empathy and establishes a lifelong commitment to being a positive force in their communities.
It can motivate them to take on positive projects in the future and and mold them to be compassionate and empathetic.
“Giving is universal – it’s not just one thing, and it’s important to model all kinds of generosity to children very early on in ways that are developmentally appropriate,” said Tammi Young-Saleme, PhD, pediatric psychologist and director of psychosocial services for the department of Hematology, Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “If we empower kids to recognize that they’re part of this world, too, and that they can do something and make an impact, we can foster that over time to ensure that they continue to develop their generosity as they grow up.”
Parents are encouraged to start by having their children engage in tangible acts of generosity, such as donating an item. Older kids and teens can make monetary donations or volunteer their time and energy.
It also helps to talk to your kids about what you're doing and why. Choosing a donation or volunteer opportunity that interests and excites your child will also help them feel involved and foster a connection to the community.