Encouraging passion, philanthropy, leadership in kids something that I think is a truly wonderful parenting tip. To me, helping our kids have the confidence to follow their passions is a way of giving them belief in themselves and allowing them to be chase their happiness. Encouraging philanthropy is a way of helping our kids be more grateful and less self centered. And helping our kids develop leadership skills is a gift that will last their whole life. Some parents expect these things to take place on their own but fostering passion, philanthropy, and leadership in kids, generally takes effort on the parents part.
Today, I am happy to have Leon Scott Baxter, the author of the newly released parenting book, (affiliate link) Secrets of Safety-Net Parenting: Raising Happy and Successful Children – The Common Denominator, and the founder of the website SafetyNetters.com share with us an article about how we, as parents, can help our children find their passions and pursue them. Incidentally, later on, their passions can lead to them contributing to their communities, which may one day benefit them in their college admissions, and applying for scholarships!
Encouraging Passion, Philanthropy and Leadership in Kids
When my daughter, Riley, started her charity at the age of eight, college admissions and scholarships were the farthest thing from our minds. Riley saw a way to maximize the toys kids outgrew and help find pediatric cancer research, a cause she was interested in.
Her charity was her idea, but of course her mom and I were instrumental in helping her vision become reality. We contacted our local cancer center. Then, we ran with my daughter’s ideas: to get local kids involved, finding young vendors, procuring a kid band, food, decorations and prizes. Encouraging leadership in kids is a process of helping them see they can create and achieve goals.
Riley was passionate about giving back through her charity. Over the five years she ran her annual event, she continued to expand her “kid-run rummage sale/carnival mash-up” raising over $25,000 until it was time to pull the curtain on the show.
Her little sister, Grace, was four when Riley started her charity. Grace was at every event. She saw it grow, and she looked up to her sister. So, when she was eight years old, Grace started a business making and selling hand-made toy pets that responded to the user’s touch.
They were a hit, and soon Grace had figured out how to capitalize on that success in order to give back. She donated her toys to an organization that helped abused children, as well as one for underprivileged families where parents could choose gifts for their children during the holidays.
Eventually she teamed up with a local animal shelter and donated a portion of each sale to the non-profit to help them upgrade their outdated computer system.
Both of the girls love giving back. They’ve found their own niches and their own causes, and the ways in which they give back reflect their passions: art, animals, sales, peers.
Our Children’s Passions May Become Their Tickets to Higher Education
Now that Grace is in middle school and Riley is a junior in high school, as their parents we realize that giving back to their communities not only benefits the recipients as well as the girls, but will be incredibly helpful in helping getting them into colleges and procuring scholarships.
When our daughters started their charities and donations, college was the furthest thing from our minds. It would have been nice to know what to look for when our daughters were younger in order for them to become philanthropic, while also preparing for college. Having gone through it already, I thought I could share what we have learned.
As parents aren’t we all trying to guide our children along a path that will help get them into great colleges and finding ways to pay for their tuition? So, what do we do? We focus on making sure they get good grades, join teams, participate in clubs, be a part of student council, and take AP, honors and college courses.
But, the reality is the competition for college admission and higher education scholarships is ferocious. Every kid your child is up against for admission into that Ivy League school, all the seniors who are striving for that $25,000 scholarship are in the same boat, in that they have the grades, took the Honors and AP courses, scored well on the SAT, and either played sports, was in the band, on the cheerleading squad, participated on the chess club or was a student body officer.
So, what can give your kid the edge? Giving back. I know… helping others is not about how it can benefit your child to get into the college of their choice.
Giving back offers our children a sense of being part of their communities, realizing that they make a difference. The ability to follow their passions and give back builds self-esteem and confidence. And, when our children acquire these soft skills, they feel good about themselves and others, which leads to hard work in other areas and eventually more success. A passionate kid who believes in a cause will naturally be a leader. You can encourage leadership in kids by helping them step up and brainstorm and plan and execute.
But, why not allow your child to benefit down the road for their philanthropy?
Last year I entered Grace into a national STEM competition for young people ages 5 – 18 who used science, technology, engineering, art or math to make a difference in the world. We were stunned when we learned that as a sixth grader Grace had won the grand prize for a ten thousand dollar college scholarship.
Looking back we realized how lucky she was to have had fallen into her philanthropy. If I had to give advice to parents of grade-schoolers who wanted to give their children opportunities to start giving back, it would be to start by finding their passions.
First, what do they love? What do they enjoy doing? What is it that they are drawn to? What are their passions? But, also find out what causes they feel strongly about. Then, focus on that passion and those causes.
Does your son love photography? Well, get him involved with it. Have him shoot all sorts of photos. Take him to photography exhibits and museums to see what the professionals do. Find apps, YouTube videos and websites that can teach him more than you can. Is there a club he can join at school or a camp he can attend this summer? Are there photography groups in your area for young people his age?
Is he concerned about the homeless issue in your city? Then, accompany him and have him meet and photograph some of the people who live on the streets. Can he create a slide show that tells a story, that adds dimension to people who many walk right past, that portrays them in a way that most people wouldn’t otherwise see?
Can he post this online, or use it in a constructive way at a city council meeting, or offer it to a homeless advocacy group? Can he enter it in a photography contest or one about issues in the community? How about using it to raise funds for the individuals in his photos or to support a local shelter?
What about his other photography? Can he sell prints at local events or maybe digitally online? And, can he offer to donate some of the profits to help the homeless locally?
These are the kinds of things that stand out according to the high school counselors and college application readers I spoke with. And, it’s obviously what the board was looking for when they awarded Grace her scholarship.
The folks making these decisions get bored of reading about the same volunteer hours, the same four-point-whatever GPA. They are looking for leadership in kids. They want to know your child has passion and then runs with it, and if he can help others along the way, your kid is suddenly standing out. He’s doing what he loves. And, he’s making his community a better place.
It all starts with passion.
Do you encourage your kids to find their passion? How do you encourage philanthropy and leadership in kids?