If you sense that your teen could be heading down the wrong path, hanging out with the wrong crowd, or just lacking ambition, a great way to turn them around is to convince them to volunteer. Much like the positive aspects of having a job, volunteering can change the way a teen thinks or acts. Your teen more than likely has a passion that could translate well to a non-profit organization that needs help.
Volunteering will allow your teen to discover more about themselves and what they are capable of. Maybe they didn’t know they had a passion for saving animals or preventing bullying, but now they see that their hard work is changing the world. In big or small ways, volunteering can change people’s lives. It can truly change the world.
Volunteering can also be a jumping board for discovering career opportunities. Volunteers come in contact with all kinds of people, which can help them discover different career paths. Chances are, if your teen is passionate about what they are doing, they may want to continue on the path to starting a career in it.
Your teen may be worried that volunteering will be boring but most organizations make it worthwhile! Many non-profits and volunteer groups have specific groups just for teen volunteers. This gives teens a great chance to meet people their own age, make a new group of friends, and have fun while making a difference in the community.
Your teen may be headed down a troubled path, but they may still be interested in going to college or building their resume. Not only does volunteering look great on college applications, but it also enables teens to learn skills that they may not learn in school. Volunteering also gives them an opportunity to learn skills that even a job wouldn’t even teach them (because let’s face it: most teen jobs involve flipping burgers or folding clothes). This helps your teen to build their resume and invest in their future.
It has also become common for students to have to fulfill volunteer requirements in order to graduate high school. If your child has to do this, it is important that they find the redeeming qualities in volunteering rather than just being forced to do it. Working with your teen to discover their interest will be beneficial to them in the long run.
Websites like dosomething.org, Idealist, and Volunteer Match are doing their best to organize volunteers with projects that are interesting to them. Showing these to your teen is a great way of letting them have the freedom to pick a cause and determine what they are going to do instead of you forcing your own ideals onto them.
The American Red Cross, local libraries, soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, shelters (for the homeless or for animals), non-profits, food banks, Habitat for Humanity, and many other organizations depend on volunteers to keep their organizations running at full capacity. Oftentimes, these organizations also rely on the help of teens.
The best way to get your teen volunteering is to sit and talk with them about what they are passionate about and show them the ways they can help. In fact,having a mature sit-down with your teen is one of the best ways to solve all the problems that you’ll encounter during the teen years. But if things are getting out of control, then a mere sit-down probably won’t do the trick. If your teen’s dangerous, defiant, or just plain bad behavior is putting a strain on the rest of your family, then it could be time to seek help from an outside source.