Teens can sometimes be naturally self-centered. After all, their lives are patterned around their education, their friends, their families and their experiences. Because of those circumstances, it's common to have a teen with a me-first or entitled attitude. If you're afraid your teen is heading down a selfish path, getting involved in the community is the ideal way to remind your teen of the greater good. Through service opportunities and meeting new people, he has the opportunity to stop thinking about himself and help the community instead.
Teen Volunteer Work
Your teen might balk at the idea of doing something for nothing, particularly when he already has a busy schedule and tight budget. But finding volunteer opportunities created especially for youth can make volunteering enjoyable and fulfilling as your teen gets involved. Check with your community center or parks and recreation department for teen programs like volunteering with children, tutoring and working with the elderly that can entice your teen to get involved.
Not all community programs are based around volunteer work. Simply getting your teen involved with events that are sponsored by the community can help him actually enjoy his new role as an active member. Look for opportunities like community plays, park cleanups or holiday events where your teen can get to know those in the community and take part of something bigger than himself. Your parks and recreation department should have a list of available community programs that your teen can choose from.
HealthyChildren.org suggests getting your teen involved in local politics as a way to help the community and get involved. It's also an ideal opportunity to talk to your teen about politics and help him form his own political opinions. Offering to canvas, put up signs, attend rallies and volunteer for a specific campaign means he's helping his community and might even discover a lifelong love and interest in politics as an adult.
Family and Friend Opportunities
Helping with the community needs to be enjoyable, otherwise your teen's interest may wane over time. Find ways to make volunteerism and community programs more social for your teen. Working through his school to come up with programs and opportunities means your teen will be working side-by-side with his friends. Or, make a commitment to work as a family in community programs or attend events together. That way, your teen doesn't see working in the community as a solitary action -- instead, it's one that fosters the very spirit of community involvement that you're teaching as a parent.
- HealthyChildren.org: Helping Teens Connect With Their Community
- KidsHealth.org: Community Service: A Family's Guide to Getting Involved
- Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No; John Townsend
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