An important part of being a good citizen is being civically involved. Parents can help positively impact our divisive world by encouraging children to become civically engaged. How do you teach children civic responsibility? There are a lot of ways, and you can never start too young. As a child, I remember vividly the impacts of 9/11 on my community. Even as a 6-year-old, I felt a deep sense of sadness during the events, but also an increased feeling that I needed to help those around me. This experience instilled in me a desire to be civically engaged and to be aware of what’s going on in the community.
Kids are extremely sensitive to things going on in the world and often have a genuine desire to help those around them. When major world events do happen, talking through what happened with your kids can help them cope. Another way for kids to process world events is to encourage them to journal on the “My Diary” app on their Troomi phone. But keep in mind you don’t need a major national disaster to happen to instill a desire to be civically responsible in your children.
Civic responsibilities for kids may not seem like a lot, but teaching your kids to participate in simple civic duties will help them to become more prepared and informed citizens. Learning about democracy and how our government was formed is a great way to help your kids understand the sacrifices that were made in order for us to enjoy our freedoms.
Here’s a list of civic activities that can help your child be civically engaged.
Volunteering in your community is a great way to show your child the impact one person can make in a community. Community service ideas for middle schoolers could include holding a food drive for a local food pantry, cleaning up a park, helping at a local animal shelter, or helping at a local library.
These simple activities can help students of all ages learn more about the importance of being civically involved. Volunteering is also a great way to teach kids humility. When children are able to internalize humility, they become better leaders and more compassionate citizens.
Participate in Elections
Have you wondered which action is the best example of a civic duty? It’s the example you set! As a parent, your participation in civic duties and activities will show your kids why it’s an important thing. One example you can set is by being an informed and active participant in elections.
Take your kids with you to vote, take them to campaign rallies, and talk to them about the issues on the ballot. Depending on your kids’ age, determine what ballot topics may be of interest to them. If someone is running for your local school board, talk to your child about how that person’s role could impact them.
You can also encourage your children to participate in elections by running for office at their schools. This is a way for them to see firsthand what it’s like to be a leader and to experience the election process.
Talk about World Events
Being an informed citizen is being a responsible citizen. Not all news stories may be appropriate for children but helping them stay informed to world events will help them be more prepared to be civically engaged. Even as a six-year-old, I needed my parents to help me understand what was happening during 9/11 and what I could do to help those around me.
Always take the time to listen and talk through questions your children may have about world events. Your children’s teachers are a great resource to help talk through things happening in the world. When working with your child’s teacher, or teaching your child yourself, ask them if they have an answer to the question, “Is teaching a civic duty?” This is a great way to start conversations about civic responsibilities and to see how many jobs in the world can play a major role in helping a community.