3 things to know before doing a service project with your kid

This post was written by Brandi Riley through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of 4-H. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s really not fair how kids get bad rap. It seems like with every generation, adults complain about how young folks are irresponsible or self-centered. When you look back through history, though, kids have always been incredibly insightful about the world’s challenges and offered simple solutions to making things better. All you have to do is to look at the contributions of Anne Frank, Louis Braille, or Malala Yousafzai to see that kids have all of the power to impact change.

My daughter Ayva is only 9-years-old, but she already has a heart for helping others. I’m incredibly proud of how thoughtful she is, and she often reminds me to be aware of the needs of the others around me. Grownups have a habit of being in a rush all the time, and I’m no different. We have our schedules and our to-do-list, and we’re heads down getting things done in our own little bubble. Kids notice everything, and they have tons of energy. When they have the support to harness those things for good, amazing things happen.

4-H is an organization that has been helping kids to do the awesome things they’ve been wired to do for since 1902. This year, they are launching a year-long movement that will “Inspire Kids to Do.” The movement is kicking off with 30 Days of Doing,  campaign that that gives ideas of fun activities for kids to do to give back, build skills, and have fun.

Ayva and I decided to get in on the fun, and chose an activity from the 30 Days of Doing calendar. We chose to put together care kits for homeless moms and babies. We bundled clothes my baby has outgrown with books and a handwritten note of encouragement for the families. Ayva loved taking the lead, and did such a great job putting the kits together with thoughtfulness and care.

It was a fantastic experience, and we learned a few things in the process. If you’d like to do something positive for your community with your kid, here are a few things to do consider:

1. Find out what the people you are helping really need.

I know how eager kids can get to help out others. It’s important to ask the people you’re helping what they really need, though. A quick call to a shelter for women and children helped us to shape our project. We found out that the shelter was in most in need of clothes for babies and toddlers. We were planning to gather soap and things like that, but when we found out what they really needed, we changed our plan.

2. Make a plan before you begin.

Speaking of planning, before you start, talk with your kid and decide what you’re going to do. What exactly is the project exactly? What do you want to accomplish? Do you need any materials to complete the project, or do you need help? Talk to your child about the importance of planning in order to have a successful service project.

3. Let your child take the lead.

This tip is for the mamas. If your child has an idea of a project they want to do, let them be in charge of it. I know that we all want our kids to succeed, but they won’t have the satisfaction of knowing that they did something great if you do it all for them. Instead of trying to be the lead, take a step back and encourage your kid to let you know what they need. Tell them that you’re there to support them, and then do just that.

Doing something to make life better for yourself and others doesn’t have to be difficult. If you need some ideas including service, STEM, or art projects, download 4-H’s “Inspire Kids to Do” to get started. You’ll also want to make sure to enter the photo contest at 4-H.org/InspireKidstoDo from September 1 – 30 for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship for your kid.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Contest is open to legal guardians of children between 5 and 17. Contest entry starts at 12:00:01 AM ET on 9/1/18 and ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on 9/30/18. Full Official Rules will be available on 9/1/18 at 4-H.org/InspireKidstoDo.