I’ve always been outspoken on issues I care about, but when I became a mom I think my voice became louder. I think I have a responsibility to use my voice to be an advocate for issues I care about. As it would naturally follow, I’m also instilling that in my children. In our home, activism is a family affair!
It’s never too young to start, and though it may sound cliché, the truth is that our kids are watching our every move. So, now that my son is 7, he picks ups things and asks questions.
Activism can be a great family affair. It is important to use age-appropriate language, to discuss the issue in a way that they will understand. Use books and movies to help illustrate the issues.
If you’re an activist, you probably have a great sense of empathy towards others, and that is what we want to teach our children. We want them to be able to empathize with others who may not be as fortunate.
Some things to keep in mind:
- It is important to take cues from our children; ask them what issues they care about, what activities they are interested in doing.
- Each child is a different person and you may get different ideas from each one. Some kids may be very interested in advocating for homeless animals, some may be interested in hunger issues, others in the environment. Be open to what they are interested in.
- Don’t force the issues. It should be something they care about and are excited to do, not something they are forced into; and end up resenting.
Here are some ways your children can be little activists
1. Make signs
Kids of any age can make signs supporting the cause they care about.
2. Donate toys/clothes
The spring is perfect time to go through closets and toy chests and donate items that are in good condition to others. I always like donating to organizations that will use the items directly – not to general places like thrift stores.
3. Write letters
When kids are older, you can encourage them to write letters to their representatives/ elected officials. This is a great activity, it allows older children to use their voice, to practice their writing skills. They can learn the process of being advocates. IT can me something as simple as writing to a local board or council member to say “Please clean up my park. My park is dirty because ____. It is not safe. All kids need a safe and clean park.”
4. Raise money
Fundraising for children can be a breeze: Kids aren’t afraid to ask for money! There are many ways to do it and make it fun: have a lemonade stand (that’s how Alex’s Lemonade Stand was created), or you can have a garage sale and donate the proceeds to an organization or cause you care about.
If you can’t give your money, you can give your time. Taking the time to make sandwiches for a shelter or donating food to a food pantry, for example. It’s all about teaching our kids to care about others and be empathetic towards the less fortunate.
At the Women’s March in NYC last year, there were many children of all genders and ages. It was beautiful to watch. These children are learning about standing in solidarity for a cause they believe in. I’d only say – please make sure it is a safe environment for kids, avoid protests that may become violent.
What did I miss? Share the ways your children are little activists with us in the comments below!
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