The question: When a child does something fun and easy that is designed to help another, which of the following is true?

a) adds to the child’s sense of being a valuable part of a community;
b) increases the child’s self confidence;
c) expands the child’s perspective;
d) teaches humility;
e) teaches a child that we help each other and if the child needs help, it is okay to ask
f) is always a win/win because community service always benefits the child doing the service and the community receiving the service.  

The answer: ALL of above, every time! 

At the starfish project for children, we encourage parents to engage their children in easy and fun service opportunities. While enjoying the service experience, the child builds self confidence, because the effort always ends in success, and he simultaneously builds connection and a sense of belongingness to his larger community. (Particularly as we come out of this year of isolation, the importance for children, of community and feeling connected has come into sharp focus.) The best part about these positive effects is that “they stick” to the child. In other words, the new confidence and feeling of belonging adds in on the positive ledger to the foundational sense of self they are developing. 

To further amplify the positive impact of your child’s service experience, when possible, choose opportunities where the child can actually see the end product of her service being received. When a child can see who her service benefits, the positive effect of the child’s service is proportionately greater because the child literally sees the value she has added. To further emphasize the value of her service, consider writing a thank you note to your child for her contribution. In cases of larger service efforts benefiting an organization, feel free to ask the organization to send a thank you note to your child. The more positive reinforcement, the bigger the deposit in the child’s self confidence bank!

The benefits to children of doing community service fills pages and books. This is just a start. For more information on appropriate community service for your child, contact thestarfishprojectforchildren@gmail.com.

Doing service for others is a proven keystone of happiness. Why? Because doing service for someone other than yourself makes you feel valuable, because you are adding value. And feeling valuable makes you feel useful and connected to the greater community. And feeling useful and connected to a community makes you feel like you belong.  And you are never alone when you belong.

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We have joined with Elementary Connections to create an ever growing directory of organizations you can reach out to for service opportunities with your family – view them here.

If you know of an organization that primarily engages families with elementary school-aged children, please let us know.