Service Adventures: How to Get Your Kids Excited About Helping Others

podcast iconDo your kids understand the value of giving?

Want to make community service part of your family’s normal routine?

To learn how to get your kids excited about helping others, I interview Dr. Deborah Gilboa for this episode of the Parenting Adventures podcast.

More About This Show

parenting adventures podcast michael stelznerThe Parenting Adventures podcast is a show from My Kids’ Adventures.

It’s for parents (and grandparents) who are looking for creative things to do with their kids.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family physician, author and parenting expert on raising respectful, responsible and resilient kids.

She’s the author of three books on parenting and a forthcoming book, Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate! Her website is

Deborah shares how to get your kids excited about helping others.

You’ll discover tips for things your kids can do to take part in community service.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Do your kids understand the value of giving? In Parenting Adventures Podcast 9, Deborah Gilboa shares how to get your kids excited about helping others.

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Service Adventures

How charitable activities impact kids

When her sons were very young, Deborah explained to a friend that she was concerned they had a case of the gimmes: “Gimme this, I want that.” The friend shared her solution. Every time she heard the word “need” used too many times inappropriately, she signed her whole family up for a day at the Rainbow Kitchen, serving meals to people who didn’t have a home. That did the trick.

family clearing up litter

Volunteer with your kids, so they see the value of what they have. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Deborah believes that when you talk to kids about being grateful, recognizing what they have that other people don’t, it becomes a really boring lecture. It’s much more effective to involve kids in activities where they can come to the conclusion themselves.

One year for Mother’s Day, Deborah told her boys she’d like them to do the weekly video for her YouTube channel. She asked them to tell people what they think it takes to get kids to appreciate what they have.

Deborah’s sons explain what it means to be grateful.

Listen to the show to discover why parents should consider getting their kids involved in community service.

How Deborah’s kids raised money: Soccket Balls

Deborah shares how her kids got involved raising money for Soccket. Soccket balls were developed by four women undergrads at Harvard for a class about the economy and renewable energy. Soccket balls are soccer balls that have tiny mechanisms that capture energy. Play with it, open it up to find a place to plug in a cord and it will power 3 hours of battery.

The family was watching football when they saw this commercial for Soccket. Her kids got so excited they wanted to help out.

When Deborah’s boys saw this commercial, they decided they wanted to raise money for it as their next project.

Deborah likes her boys to do as many things for themselves as they can, so she suggested they write a letter to the company, saying they want to raise money for them. When children write to people, they usually get a response. Deborah’s kids did. The email back said it takes about $60 to build and send a Soccket ball. Her kids decided to raise a lot more than that.

They came up with a detailed plan, which included:

  • Promoting Soccket balls at community soccer games
  • Coming up with incentives for people to donate
  • Making a reverse lemonade stand

Over the course of the summer, they raised $500.

Listen to the show to learn about the big Soccket fundraiser Deborah’s boys are planning.

Sample service activities

Kids don’t need to do a big project to help others. There are ways to do things in as little as a half hour or an afternoon. Just involve kids in things they enjoy doing that also make the world a better place.

For example, if your kids love baking cookies, make a double batch and ask them who in the community they want to give the other half to, like the local firehouse or police station. While the cookies are baking, make a thank-you card that says, “Thank you for keeping our community safe.”

kids cracking eggs into bowl

If your kids like to bake, make extra and take them to a firehouse or police station. Image source: iStockPhoto.

It’s a great chance for our kids to understand that there are people in the community looking out for us, she explains. Plus, it makes our public safety officers feel appreciated.

Deborah also explains how to take your kids reverse trick or treating right before Halloween. Bring treats to a community center or assisted living facility. The kids get to dress up early, and it really brightens the residents’ day.

Listen to the show to discover other things your kids can do in your community.

Introducing the concept of a service activity to your kids

To get kids excited about helping others, focus on something they already love to do.

helping elderly woman

There are lots of things kids can do to help out in the community. Image source: iStockPhoto.

For example, if they like doing crafts, suggest that they hold an art fair with other people from your neighborhood to sell arts and crafts they’ve made. Then donate the money they make to an important cause.

Listen to the show to learn how to encourage your kids to help causes they hear about at school.

How to have the best possible service experience

Try not to have a picture in your head of what the perfect volunteer or community service experience is going to look like, Deborah suggests. The more our kids have autonomy over what they make, what they say when they meet people, how they help or how much they interact or don’t interact will determine how much they enjoy it.

kids volunteering

Don’t orchestrate your kids’ volunteer experience. They’ll enjoy it a lot more if they have autonomy. Image source: iStockPhoto.

The timing of any service activity can vary. For example, Deborah expects dropping cookies off at the firehouse will take 2 minutes. It’s usually 10 or 15 minutes, depending on what’s going on there and if the firefighters are interested in interacting with her kids. She doesn’t set it up as fun. She explains that it’s to say “thank you.” And, if more comes out of it, that’s a bonus.

Kids will learn that they did something nice and it might be fun. If we correct them, however, or try to orchestrate a “perfect” experience, it probably won’t end up being much fun for them.

Listen to the show to learn ways in which kids can learn service from their parents.

Parenting Adventures Tip

Harry Potter Potions

My Kids’ Adventures’ Jennifer Ballard and I talk about the magical world of Harry Potter and how to make magical Harry Potter potions.

To make the most out of this adventure, start by getting into character. The parent is the potions professor and the kids are the students, just like Harry.

harry potter collage

Jennifer goes into detail of how to make the Burning Basilisk potion. Since there’s fire involved, parental supervision is required for this one.

You need powdered sugar, baking soda, a clear plastic cup (Jen reuses applesauce cups), some hot burning alcohol— like rubbing alcohol and a large heatproof mixing bowl or pot.

Mix 4 parts powdered sugar to 1 part baking soda into your small plastic cups. Flip the cup over into bottom of bowl—; leave the cup on top of the powder. Then pour the alcohol around it. Now, take the cup off, so it’s a mountain of powder surrounded by a pool of liquid. Now stand back and carefully light the fuel.

Listen to the show to learn what happens when you light the potion.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are some of the things you do with your family to help others? Please leave your comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

I am a dad of three kids, the founder of My Kids' Adventures and the founder of Social Media Examiner. I also host the Parenting Adventures podcast. Other posts by »


  1. Crystal Foth says:

    I’d love to make this a part of sharing time with my daughter – thanks for the inspiration to get out and give a little!

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