By Jodie Lynn
How young is too young for a kid to volunteer? My seven-year-old daughter wants to volunteer at a couple of summer organizations this summer because her older cousin does.
ANSWER FROM READER:
I have three kids who started a “help your neighbor” group for the elderly people in our subdivision. There are only eleven homes, so it's pretty small. My youngest child is only six but he wanted to help as well. Since the oldest is eleven, I just make sure that the youngest child is supervised by her. It is a good learning process, gives them something to look forward to during the summer and they enjoy volunteering for the senior citizens. Maybe you could allow your daughter to start small and gradually build up to more responsibility as she gets older. - Marla Sutter in Dallas, TX
Oftentimes, older kids have a different outlook on volunteering than the younger kids. They usually have already had some experience and understand the responsibility that is involved. If your daughter hasn't done this before, it probably appears more fun to her than it actually will be, especially since part of her excitement comes from being inspired by her cousin doing it. She may quickly become bored or simply tired at this age. However, if the organizations are ones that you know and respect and you are on the premises while your daughter would be volunteering, then perhaps allow her to help in a small way for a limited amount of time once or twice a week under your supervision. For example, if she is involved in tennis lessons, maybe she can gather the balls at the end of the session. Or, if she is taking swimming lessons, there may be something she can do for the instructor at the end of the lessons. As long as you get permission from the person in charge and you are there to monitor how things are going, it should prove to be a valuable situation for your daughter. Try not to interfere if you think she is not doing a good job and don't help her unless she asks. Remember, she is the one asking you for the opportunity so let her and the person she will be helping communicate about the details of her responsibilities.
CAN YOU HELP?
I know you have written about this before a couple of years ago, but I was wondering if you could give your insight on cell phones for kids again. My eight-year-old daughter's dad bought her a cell phone. Many of her friends already have one. My ex-husband says that he just wants to keep in touch with her more frequently. It's more of a luxury in my opinion and now, instead of doing her homework, I'll find her playing games on it. She's very excited about it and I hate to be the mean parent, but shouldn't some restrictions apply?
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