June was a significant month of awareness for South Africans, well for some of us…with Nelson Mandela day on the horizon we had a constant reminder: for some it was an awakening to give back, for others to be thankful for what they have. Either way Mandela’s intention was clear and the day is dedicated to service and the coming together of a community.

Perhaps it is the only time of the year you think about volunteering or giving back to the community, and without feeling guilty about the rest of the year here are a few thoughts about how it can influence your children positively:

  1. Teaches them gratitude

Small things are big things: Doing something as simple as offering a lift to someone who does not have transport is a selfless task that opens an awareness in your child that someone may not have what they have and to be thankful

  1. Contextualizes the world they live in

Everyone is part of a community: We do not live in isolation and our gestures go a long way in impacting those around us. It creates context for a child, this is the world we live in, and each individual can influence that.

  1. Creates emotional development such as empathy and compassion

Children have a natural capacity for compassion. They identify with” friends” in various shapes and forms such as stuffed animals and pets. However, this competes with other elements such as impulse control…. I am sure you are familiar with the “Its mine” mentality. Your act of kindness merely builds on the idea and understanding of compassion, it is a simple way in adding value to a child’s emotional development.

I will certainly evaluate the significance of Mandela day, and its impact on my community and my family and give a little more than last year!

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela