I get comments all the time like, “You are so mature for your age.” or “You have an old soul.” or “I can’t believe you’re a millennial!” Apparently someone in their 20s doing something kind or responsible comes as a big shock these days. It’s kind of sad. I’m living in a generation known as “Millennials,” but now the stereotype has grown to the point that we are also referred to as “The Entitlement Generation.” Children need to be taught about citizenship, community, and caring for others. Let’s work on bettering ourselves and our communities while teaching our children in the process.
Be the change you want to see in the World! – Mahatma Gandhi
Let’s show our kids how much good there is in the world, and how they can pay it forward. Random Acts of Kindness make the world a better place.
Ways to Teach Your Child to Pay it Forward:
- Lead by Example – Kids love “monkey see, monkey do” for a reason. They love to emulate those that they look up to. Be the person you want your kids to respect. Show someone around you some kindness, and your kids will follow suit.
- Start Small – Let someone with a couple items in front of you in the checkout line, or hold a door for someone. Give someone a compliment or a nice note.
- Teach Empathy and Awareness – Watch a sad movie, read some books, or bring your kids to volunteer somewhere. Have a discussion afterwords about how thankful you are for the things you have and how life must be hard for the person or characters. When you go to the store or the mall, teach your kids to be aware of people around them. Something so simple can make a huge impact. Many people who act “entitled” may have just never learned to look at the world around them and see how their actions impact others.
- Help a Cause your Child Cares About – Is your little boy fascinated by firemen? Bake some cookies together and bring them to your local fire station. Your little one can meet his idols and may even get to slide down the firepole. Does your daughter want to be a doctor when she grows up? Look for a volunteer opportunity at a children’s hospital or your local pediatrician’s office. Does your child love GI Joe? Help him create a nice care package to send a random soldier. You can even find supplies at your local dollar store. – These are just a few examples, but there are so many possibilities. Keying into your child’s interest will ensure he remembers it for a long time to come.
- Pass It Along – Encourage your child to go through his old toys to find things he doesn’t use anymore and donate them. Have a closet raiding “party” as a family and look for unused clothes or pantry item to donate.
- Make a Commitment – Work together as a family to come up with “pay it forward” ideas and goals. A good one might be that each family members agrees to find a way to pay it forward by the end of the week. At the end of the week everyone can share what they did, and how the experience made them feel.
- Keep a Balance – It’s good for your children to be happy when they help someone out, but make sure they learn the difference between doing something for someone else and doing it for themselves. If they want to do something for the praise they get afterward, then they haven’t really gotten the message. Paying it forward is about helping the other person. Doing this naturally feels good!
Pay it Forward has really become a movement in the last few years. I see stories every day about children asking for pet food donations to their local shelter instead of birthday presents, an endless line of people paying it forward in a Starbucks line, or people choosing to honor the memory of a loved one by holding a “Pay It Forward” day. It is so great to see these stories. They constantly inspire me to pay it forward myself, and hopefully this blog will help your family to do the same – to be the change!
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!