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5 Mental Health Boosts When Kids Volunteer

More and more, research shows that taking the time to volunteer has positive benefits for ALL of us, and especially for kids. According to the Journal of Research on Adolescence, the positive effects of volunteering on kids are felt more when helping strangers than when we help people we know personally, such as friends and family.

In a 2017 study, researchers found that "volunteering may do more than boost personal morale. Studies show altruism can help people connect socially, which may prevent loneliness, as well as alleviate mental health concerns, like depression."

With youth mental health* becoming an issue that is finally being addressed, finding ways to provide kids with positive and healthy feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are ever-important in our e-world.

Kids self-esteem can be positively affected - for up to a year - when they help someone they don't know and/or spend time giving back to a cause. - Journal of Research on Adolescence, November 2017

5 Ways Volunteering is Good for Kids Mental Health

1. Volunteering helps you feel good about yourself. Helping others = feeling happy. Rarely will someone walk away from a give-back experience feeling bad. There is always something to be intrinsically gained when making crafts with a senior citizen at a retirement community, or picking up trash in a local park. Volunteering fosters a sense of pride that we are part of a small movement to make the community (and world) a better place.

2. Volunteering connects you to other people. As a parent, one of the best things about participating in family volunteering is the exposure my kids get to other people. They have met and made friends with kids that they don't go to school or play sports with; thereby, expanding their small worlds beyond their comfort zone of school and neighborhood friends.

Volunteering has provided my kids with the opportunity to practice and develop their social skills with people they don't know.- Victoria, founder of Tucson Family Volunteers

3. Volunteering is a self-confidence booster. When kids are part of a give-back activity, such as assembling resource bags for unhoused neighbors, they can immediately see how their time and effort will have a positive effect on someone else. Knowing that they are part of a project that will benefit others in the community is a boost to their ability to make a difference. It provides kids with a sense of ownership in a project, pride in their work and helps them develop leadership skills. All great factors for giving kids a healthy boost of self-esteem and self-worth.

Kid Volunteers crafting bookmarks for help other kids get excited about reading.

Volunteering provides a sense of purpose

4. Volunteering can bring fun and fulfillment to life. When you volunteer, you tap into your kids' interest. It's a great way to learn about what makes your kids excited (or upset), which can be a great avenue for meaningful conversations outside of the volunteering activity. One Tucson Family Volunteers participant expressed that she never knew how passionate her daughter was about "saving Mother Earth" until they volunteered to clean up a local park together.

5. Volunteering is an escape from the day-to-day grind of school and life. From preparing garden plots for school kids to sorting donated clothes to coloring holiday cards for a local shelter, volunteering can be a relaxing escape from every day life. Doing volunteer work that makes you feel good mentally. emotionally and/or physically, is good for you. Giving back provides all of us with renewed creativity, meaning and motivation that can carry over into our personal, family and school lives.

"Helping strangers doesn't need to be on a grand scale. When [kids] can see the benefit of their actions, they often realize how much power they have to support others. And that can boost confidence," Padilla-Walker, author, Journal of Research on Adolescence, November 2017

Research suggests that families discuss potential volunteer projects together. Ask kids their opinions on a cause or community need they may have. Connecting with this curiosity can help you identify an activity the kids value. Get an easy feel-good boost + register for a volunteer project today:

*Kids are dealing with a lot nowadays. Please seek professional help for issues that require additional care from a trained medical provider. This article is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment.


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