Source: Search Institute

One family decided to show an elderly widow that they cared about her by cleaning up her yard and planting flowers. The five children were so excited about the idea, they told their friends. On the day of the project, 15 kids showed up to help. The parents had to ask neighbors to help drive everyone to the woman’s home.

After completing the project, the young people decided to start what they called the Kids Care Club and began planning their next event. This time, 25 kids showed up. They packed bag lunches (and decorated them) for a soup kitchen.

Since then, the Kids Care Club has been a model for other families, neighborhoods, communities, congregations, and schools. You can start your own Kids Care Club in your family with one small project. Then register your club with the National Kids Care Clubs.

Write a letter explaining why you want to help others and send it to Kids Care Clubs, 975 Boston Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820. You will receive newsletters that include ideas from other young people who are doing acts of caring.

The Definition of Caring: Caring about others includes caring for a lot of different people: those in your family, neighborhood, school, community, state, country, and world. It can include caring for animals and the environment, too.

Time Together: Three ways to help your child value caring:

  1. Volunteer as a family at an animal shelter, a nature center, or a food bank.
  2. Visit neighbors and extended family who live alone.
  3. Spend money on a family in need instead of each other at holiday time.

Who Cares? According to Search Institute researchers, girls are much more likely than boys to value caring. Of the girls surveyed, 84% said helping other people was important to them, and 76% said it was important to help make the world a better place. For boys, the percentages were 66% and 62%, respectively.

4 Keys to Caring
Caring includes reaching out to others and respecting the environment. Teach your child these four ways to care:

  1. Hold the door for the person after you when you walk into school.
  2. Sit with someone on the bus who usually sits alone.
  3. Compliment at least one person every day!
  4. Pick up litter around your school or neighborhood.

Two Types of Caring
Caring for others can take place in two ways: through direct caring (which involves human interaction) and indirect caring (when we do things for people but don’t see them). It’s important for young people to be involved in both direct and indirect caring. Look at the two lists below.

Where does your family put forth most of its caring energies?

  • Direct caring—Spending time with people needing care; interacting with others; getting direct feedback from people you’re caring for.
  • Indirect caring—Collecting money, food, or other items to give to people who distribute the items to those in need; hearing feedback from organizers who help the people.

Reprinted with permission from Ideas for Parents, Newsletter #33, © 2008 by Search Institute. Minneapolis, MN, 1-800-888-7828. All rights reserved.