Let’s be honest. As parents, we all have some anxiety around summer vacation. Too often, it becomes a chore to fill your teenager’s schedule to keep them busy and out of trouble.
And if you haven’t considered volunteer work, this post just might change that.
In this post, we’re going to explore six reasons why teens should be encouraged to volunteer during the summer.
Let’s get to it!
1. It looks great on college applications
You probably already know that potential employers like to see volunteer work on a resume, but it works much in the same way with a college application.
In fact, volunteer work may even have more of an impact on a college application. This is because colleges are reading these applications to look for signs that the teen is responsible for.
Volunteering shows a great deal of responsibility, especially in a young adult. It’s also a great sign that the teenager has empathy and can work well within a team, which are also qualities that can be used to predict a teen’s success in college.
2. Volunteering broadens horizons
When you grow up in a certain socio-economic climate, it can be difficult to imagine life any other way than understanding the plights some families and individuals face.
But when a child grows up in an upper-middle-class family, they may develop a sense of entitlement if they don’t understand other economic situations. Volunteering isn’t the only way to teach these lessons, but it can help.
Volunteering at a food bank or a children’s club in an impoverished area can help your teenager understand and empathize with the struggles of children who grow up with fewer financial privileges. Also, volunteering in a timebanking community would help them understand the value of reciprocity and respect for others.
In a similar way, volunteering at a nursing home or animal shelter can help reinforce important characteristics like empathy and patience.
3. Volunteering now will help your teen’s future
Volunteering looks great on a resume for a good reason.
It takes dedication and teaches life lessons that most teenagers don’t get until they’re adults. So even if your teen chooses to volunteer for the opportunities it may afford them, they can benefit from all the great experience.
This includes the employment benefits of volunteering, like leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. Through volunteering, your teen will learn lessons that will stick with him or her for a lifetime.
4. Volunteering increases self-confidence
There’s something interesting that happens when we help other people: We end up helping ourselves — sometimes even more so. In many volunteer opportunities, you can see immediate results from your actions.
Seeing someone smile or get nourishment for the first time in hours or days is an incredibly rewarding experience. When your teenager volunteers, he or she will end up doing things that they can be proud of. And that will always increase your child’s self-confidence.
5. Volunteer work may also increase physical activity
If you’re struggling to get your teen to exercise, don’t sweat it. With volunteering, he or she can kill two birds with one stone.
If your teen volunteers for physical activity, like community beautification or Habitat for Humanity, he or she can get exercise while doing great things for their community, themselves and their future. It’s an all-around win-win.
6. Busy time keeps teens from problematic situations
You want your teenager to experience his or her teenage years to an extent, but you don’t want them getting into trouble. At this point, their brains aren’t fully developed yet and they can end up making mistakes they’ll regret for a lifetime.
As parents, it’s our job to help our children manage their time and make the wisest possible decisions during this time. But it’s incredibly fair to encourage a certain amount of productive time each week. And volunteering is a great way to get in that productive time while still having fun.
As a volunteer, your teen will become part of a team that’s working towards a common goal.
They’ll establish some level of independence from the family unit and begin coming into their own. They may also encounter life lessons and cautionary tales that have a major impact on their decision making as teenagers.
We all want to keep our teenagers out of trouble, but there’s only so much any of us can really do. At this time, our children are becoming adults and we must give them the freedom to make their own decisions, and their own mistakes. It’s all part of life.
Volunteering can help keep the kids out of trouble, but it can also teach them important lessons about the world and how to function as a productive member of society.
For a teenager, these years are about having fun and exerting some independence.
For a parent, these years are about preparing the child to become a healthy and productive adult. It’s our job to help ensure our kids have all the tools to make it on their own as adults. Volunteering isn’t the entire equation, but it can be a helpful piece of the puzzle.