Why Every Teen Should Volunteer

Kevin Gardner

Parents and guardians often look for impactful activities for their children as a way to ensure they develop into well-rounded adults. Regardless of the motivation behind it, volunteering is an activity that perfectly fits the bill and can prove to be incredibly beneficial to adolescent development. While many teens may not be looking to find meaning in life or pursuing opportunities with greater impact on the world around them, volunteering can be revelatory. Consider these reasons why you should not miss out on these amazing opportunities.

Identifying Volunteer Opportunities

As a parent or guardian, getting your teenager to get up and complete daily responsibilities can feel like an incredibly arduous task, and volunteering may feel like an impossibility. As you look to create a sense of accountability and give them actively working in the community, one key factor is finding a charitable organization or activity that sparks their interest. By identifying volunteer opportunities for teens that they are excited about, you can find something they can be enthused by and a community of like-minded teens for them to work with. By starting with something that they connect with, you can create a sense of volunteerism and giving back without clearly identifying that objective.

Establishing Empathy

Developing empathy can be difficult in a digital world where we are often separated by screens; however, volunteering can be a critical piece in this puzzle. Many of the people your teen may serve or volunteer with, may have different backgrounds than their own, offering a unique chance to engage with others. By providing your teen the opportunity to engage with individuals who do not look like them or who have different lived experiences, you can give them the chance to learn from others, expand their horizons and gain empathy. Through their engagement with different communities, they will continue to grow and develop their emotional intelligence without you explicitly stating this goal.

Volunteering Together

Volunteering together is a useful way to get the entire family out and about, positively impacting society. In a world that can often feel egocentric, giving back together can be hugely beneficial. While presenting your teen opportunities for community engagement is important to their development, it is important to embrace volunteerism as a family. Life can be incredibly busy, but if your child sees you not engaged and contributing, they may question their participation or your lack of it. By finding time to give back together, your child knows that the core belief of contributing to the greater good is a value that the entire family embraces. Not only does it enforce this core value, but giving back can positively influence you too.

Building Skills

This may be obvious to many, but volunteering presents unique opportunities to build skills through community engagement. While there are a declining number of teenagers acquiring part-time jobs, volunteering offers the ability to gain responsibility and learn new skills. Whether this is through working with the elderly, answering phones at a crisis center or showing up on time, your teen will experience accountability among many other skills. These skills can be used to establish a level of professionalism and create a more conscientious employee for the future.

Benefiting Unexpectedly

While many teens express interest in volunteering due to impending college applications and deadlines, there are also surprising benefits of volunteering that your child may not expect. The emotional fulfillment of giving back to a community can be incredibly enriching and yield positive benefits for mental health and self-esteem. Through continued involvement, your teen may slowly begin to build relationships and a community with those they work with. Over time, they may find that they enjoy the experience more than they could ever have imagined, and maybe, even get more from the experience than the people they are serving.

For many teens, volunteering is something that is often valued for its added benefit to college applications; however, these opportunities can become incredibly enriching and valuable experiences. The positive effects that community engagement can have on volunteers can be life-changing, so make sure that you give your teen the chance to experience this amazing revelation.