Not every kid will get a college sports scholarship. And most of our kids won’t be grand chess masters or Science Olympiad champs, but your child can change the world and become a better, happier person in the process.
That’s the theory of Marc Keilburger, author of “The World Needs Your Kid,” and co-founder of Free the Children. Keilburger was in Chicago to speak to supporters of the Chicago Children’s Theater about his foundation that empowers kids to become agents of global change.
“Kids who are socially involved are better citizens and students,” says Keilburger. But he admits that even though teens are more aware of international issues than we were at their age—think about the viral spread of Kony 2012—most still need parental encouragement to find a cause and make a difference. Here are 3 ways you can engage:
Keep them Current
According to Susan Kuczmarski, author of four books on parenting and leadership, discussing relevant topics with your kids is the first step. “It shouldn’t be stressful or academic,” she says. Instead she recommends asking lots of questions and letting your kids express their feelings about an issue.
And when they ask hard questions, don’t preach. Ask them what they think, and then help them find resources to answer their questions.
Lead by Example
Clare Flaherty is a rising senior at Regina Dominican, and last year she and friend Maura Ford organized the school’s first dance marathon to benefit research into Crohn’s disease. She credits her parents, especially her mom, with encouraging her to persevere and get the event approved.
When the event neared, her mom rolled up her sleeves and helped the girls make decorations, among many other tasks. “I told her on Mother’s Day that we were so much closer because we worked on Dance Marathon together,” says Flaherty.
Beyond their encouragement, Flaherty’s parents live their lives as examples of social involvement. Her mother works for Catholic Charities and her father is a doctor who volunteers in medical clinics in Haiti and Africa.
Identify their Gift
Keilburger encourages parents to recognize that action comes when children identify their talent and combine it with an issue that they care about. And he notes in his book, that “hanging out with friends,” is a talent. That kid would be a stellar peer counselor. A future culinary star is going to rock a bake sale. The athlete can organize a tournament for charity.
But busy kids aren’t going to put these talents to work unless they find the cause that ignites their passion. Something that makes them mad; a problem they can’t stop thinking about.
Once they find a cause and want to get involved, encourage them to start small. But start! LINK TO ARTICLE Here’s a list of seven steps from “The World Needs Your Kid,” to get them going.
And here’s a great video about Me to We.