January is National Blood Donor Month. Blood donation is a great way to teach your child about giving. As parents we often find that we’re spread thin. But finding one way to commit yourself can be rewarding for you and your children, not to mention to the people you help, and being a blood donor is a simple way to do it.
Last year I committed to go regularly to a local donor center. I get some peace and quiet, and I get the satisfaction of helping people, which is a feeling I want to share with my kids.
Donating blood can help your children learn about ways to give that go beyond donating money or dropping a gift in the Toys for Tots box each holiday season. It reminds us that people have needs year round and that we can commit to do something regularly to help others. Not only that, we can help our kids learn about facing and overcoming fears.
Help with their fears
Schedule an appointment to donate, and tell your children what you’re doing. They’ve had their fair share of shots while you sat on the sidelines. Just like those needles were to help them get better, giving blood is something you’re doing to help other people get better. Let them know it’ll hurt a little, but it’s worth it.
Remind them that if they’re ever sick or in trouble, people will be there to help them, too.
Share the facts about being a blood donor
You can donate blood every two months. It takes an hour helps all kinds of patients in a hospital, both kids and adults. You can also donate platelets every seven days. It takes about two hours, and most blood donors are eligible.
You can find places to donate near you by checking with your local hospitals or contacting the Red Cross. After you make an appointment, you can look through the Red Cross website with your children to help them understand how your gift of blood donation will help people.
Involve your child
People over age 17 can donate blood (16 with parental consent). If your teen is interested in being a blood donor, set up appointments to go together. You can have a chat to distract each other from the needles and share some cookies and juice when it’s over. Older children can also help you organize a blood drive in your community even if they can’t donate yet.
It’s best to check with your donation center to see if younger children can come along. You can bring an adult friend to take the kids for a snack while you donate. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to kids about helping people who are sick and reducing any possible fears your child might have about doctors and hospitals.
Giving doesn’t have to mean money or toys; giving of ourselves is one of the most valuable lessons we can teach.
How do you teach your children to give?