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3 Ways to Teach Kids to Give Back #KidsGiveBack

3 Ways to Teach Kids to Give Back #KidsGiveBack

Children are our future. In order for kids to become compassionate, giving, and philanthropic as adults we need to teach them these skills as children. It is not always easy finding ways for children and families to volunteer and give, other than writing a check. However, there are several options available to almost everyone around the United States. These three ways, listed below, of giving back can teach your child not only to give back, but it can help them appreciate what they do have.

One of the best ways to find gratitude in our own lives is to see those who are much less fortunate. This gratitude for our own lives and opening our children’s eyes to see how others have it so much worse can help them become empathetic human beings. It isn’t enough to tell our children about the poor and destitute. We need to teach them to make a difference and put it into action. These tips are actions everyone can take with their children.

1. Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is an amazing international project that has sent millions of shoeboxes filled with gifts and necessities to impoverished children in over 150 countries since 1993. Anyone can participate in this giving project. You and your children can go shop for a child, pack it in a shoebox, and then take it to a drop off location. There are more than 5,000 drop off locations in the United States. Go to this link to find a drop off location near you: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations/. They ask for a suggested donation of $7 per box, to cover the cost of transporting it to the child.

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    You can chose the gender and age range of the child you want to provide a shoebox gift to. If you select the same age and gender as your own child it makes it easier for them to select gifts for this child. It also helps them relate to the child.

    When choosing necessities and school supplies to pack in the box (as suggested per the Operation Christmas Child site), it becomes a teachable moment with your child as you can explain that many children can’t afford to go buy these essential items. You can also explain that many will not get Christmas gifts, as their family is just trying to survive on a daily basis and they need to spend their money on food. Your child will begin to understand that not all children are as fortunate as they are, but we can do something to help these children. Bigger giving in life begins with small giving now. Teach them the skill of giving to others, so that the skill can grow in them as they grow up.

    There is a tutorial on the exact steps for shopping, packing, printing your label, and drop off instructions on the Operation Christmas Child site. They make it very easy for people to participate and show love to these children who live very impoverished lives abroad. You can also track your box to see where it goes. I have always included a letter in my boxes for the child. Two times I have received letters back!

    Here is the link for instructions on how to participate: Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Instructions. Make sure you have your shoeboxes to the collection location on time, as the shoebox collection week is November 14-21.

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      2. Ronald McDonald House Charities

      The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a non profit that provides free or very low cost temporary housing for parents who have children in the hospital. There are over 350 Ronald McDonald Houses across the globe, most are based in the United States. These houses provide a private room for parents and children, hot meals, a playroom for children, and compassionate staff and volunteers to be there for the families.

      My husband and I personally stayed in two Ronald McDonald Houses while our son was hospitalized for weeks on end. Without these houses, we would not have been able to be with our son each day, all day long, as our home was over 2 hours away. They provided us with a private room and bathroom, hot meals each day, staff that was willing to lend a caring ear, and snacks to take to the hospital with us. They were there for us in our time of need. Our son ended up dying in the hospital.

      The first people we saw after he died and we left the hospital was the Ronald McDonald House staff. They were very compassionate, caring, and loving. We are just one of thousands of families that have been touched and cared for by the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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      What makes their organization even more special is that the meals are cooked by local volunteers. This is one way you and your family can give back. In the years since our son has passed, I have volunteered several times to cook meals at my local Ronald McDonald House. In the location where I made the meal, I brought the ingredients for the meal to the Ronald McDonald House and cooked it right there. They had a large kitchen space with several ovens, making the process even easier. When I arranged to come to make the meal, the staff told me how many I would need to cook for, and what time I would need to have the meal ready for the residents. They made it very easy for me to volunteer in this capacity. You too can volunteer to cook at a local Ronald McDonald House. Simply contact your local House by finding them on this site (simply enter your country and state).

      There are other ways to help out at your local Ronald McDonald House and have your kids volunteer too. You can create snack bags for the parents to take, so they have food and snacks to take to the hospital. Contact your local Ronald McDonald House to find out if they have requirements (such as a certain number of bags to make for the residents or food restrictions for potential allergies).

      Another way to give is to purchase toys for the children who are in the hospital. Families who stay at these homes are often a long way from their home and they can’t simply drive home to get their child’s personal books and toys. Providing toys and books that the residents can have for their children is a wonderful gift.

      As you buy toys with your child for these ailing children, you can discuss with your child how these children ended up in the hospital. It is important for them to understand that not all children are born healthy and that some children get sick, or have serious accidents that threaten the lives of these children. Having your child buy toys for these children is a way of bringing some happiness into the lives of these sick or hurt children. Your child will develop compassion for ailing children in the process of understanding their situation and giving generously to them.

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      Another way to give to the Ronald McDonald House Charities that doesn’t cost anything at all, is to collect can pull tabs. These tabs which can be found on sodas and other beverage, as well as some food containers. These help to cover costs incurred at Ronald McDonald Houses. At a Ronald McDonald House where I volunteered, they said they used the funds from those tabs (which are recycled for money) to pay for the electricity and water bills for their charity house where hundreds of family, at this particular house, stayed each year.

      For more information on pull-tab collection and other ways to help, please go to this link.

      3. Meals on Wheels

      Meals on Wheels is one of the longest running charities in the Unites States. They provide free meals to housebound (often elderly) people in the community. There are local chapters of Meals on Wheels all over the country. Go to this link to find a chapter near you to contact.

      This program provides a great opportunity for families to volunteer together. You can simply contact your local chapter and sign up to deliver meals. I contacted my local chapter and they said most volunteers sign up for just one day a month and it takes 1.5 hours to deliver all the meals. No cooking required! You just pick up the meals and deliver them. Children can help by carrying the meals with you to hand deliver at each home. Children will get to see the real recipients of these meals and get the thank you for the delivery as well. This volunteer opportunity doesn’t require any money, just some time and a vehicle. It is an easy and wonderful way to give back.

      Let’s start a movement of getting kids to give back now. It starts in our own homes with our own children. Use the hashtag #KidsGiveBack on social media and share your stories and photos of giving back with your children. Let’s make a difference in our communities starting with us today! Your opportunities to give back know no limits. There are many good charities and opportunities, the above are just a few suggestions. Share your experiences and giving back on social media to encourage others to give back as well #KidsGiveBack.

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      Dr. Magdalena Battles

      A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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      Last Updated on January 17, 2019

      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

      In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

      Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

      Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

      Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

      Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

      The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

      There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

      How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

      According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

      Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

      Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

      The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

      Listen carefully:

      We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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      The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

      Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

      8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

      There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

      Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

      1. Pray Daily

      You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

      When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

      Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

      Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

      2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

      A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

      By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

      Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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      If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

      This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

      How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

      3. Smile Often

      Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

      Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

      Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

      The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

      4. Organize Your Working Desk

      A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

      When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

      Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

      Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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      5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

      I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

      Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

      What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

      6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

      God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

      I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

      I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

      7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

      You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

      How do you do that? This is my formula:

      First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

      If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

      If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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      If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

      Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

      8. Go Exercise

      Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

      The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

      You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

      12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

      The Bottom Line

      It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

      It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

      Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

      More Resources About Mindfulness

      Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

      Reference

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