Posts Tagged ‘gifts for the special season’

Offer Your Child The Best Ever Gift For The Festive Season: Your Time


It’s the holiday season. It’s the time to be jolly. It’s the time for gifts, family gatherings, outings, and fun. You may wonder for a while about the best presents to buy your loved ones on such special occasions; then, embark on a shopping craze for selection. Choosing the right gift to offer your child may be on top of your list. Lately, “Parenting Family Magazine” interviewed me on the topic of gift selection for the festive season, and our dialogue was loaded with brilliant ideas. This is how the interview went:

What kind of gifts can parents best offer their children during this season Dania?

Parents could get focused on buying tangible items like toys for their kids; and it’s true that these are very attractive. If we think hard, we’d realize that we have enough toys and things around the house already. No gift would be good enough like offering the child some special quality time. Our pervasive enemy in current days is “time poverty”. We are moving at a dizzying speed; and we rarely pause to catch our breath. Our kids, especially the younger ones, yearn for our presence – not presents. This is how we can support them, guide them, and nourish them. This is how they develop secure feelings, learn our values, grow best, and thrive. We, therefore, need to go the extra mile in ensuring we arrange spending more quality time with our kids and do what we don’t get the chance to do regularly. This is especially important when both parents are engaged in careers outside the home. That alone devours most of their time.

But many parents or moms don’t have a career and are there for the kids most of the time already.

That’s true, but many home-stay moms get sucked up in their own chores and routines. I’ve seen very busy moms with no careers who are constantly distracted from providing quality time for their kids. I am suggesting, here, following a conscious decision to make the time to spend it in a special way specifically tailored to the child. It’s not about quantity time where the caregivers are in the house with the kids, yet doing other things. What many parents do as they fulfill their parental duties is dictate orders when the need arises (especially about studying). Kids have varied needs. Parents can’t just rely only on teaching kids what matters. We need to teach our kids they matter; and allocate slots of time to do different activities they’d like and learn from.

Are you suggesting we forget the concept of concrete gifts all together?

No, perhaps not. Not all children will easily accept having “nothing” to hold, or no “box” to open for Christmas, for instance, especially when they would know other kids are getting some “thing” on this occasion. It would be great if kids were okay with that. Parents can get a little nice something and it doesn’t have to be very expensive. The trend for kids these days is to spend a lot of time doing activities while sitting for long periods of time even when they’re not studying. Things like: Browsing the internet, playing on the “play station”, watching TV, etc….. During our old days, we had simpler and cheaper toys that got our bodies moving especially outdoors (e.g. kite, Frisbee, fishing rod, rope, etc….). Why don’t we reclaim these for our kids to break their sedentary life-style and engage them immediately with an outing to try these for a change?

But these gifts can be bought any day and we need something special for special occasions.

You’re absolutely right, but how often do parents remember to forget toys and the trendy electronics and opt to buy those entertaining things that get their kids out in the open? Most kids have sufficient electronic stuff these days anyway. They would yearn to be in the company of their parents doing extraordinary stuff. If we keep associating a child’s happiness to expensive goodies, they would learn to associate happiness with “things”. The best idea, in my opinion, is to combine a simple gift with a special treat for the day about spending family time together doing a fun activity (perhaps with that gift). We need to make things grand with the simpler stuff. Left on their own, kids may not find the true value of humble things in life. Let’s consider some beneficial ideas that would allow parents to engage their kids in using simpler gifts like:

–  Paint: I’m referring here to wall or furniture paint. Imagine how cool  it would be to paint together a wall or walls in their room and help them decorate it as they please (a 2 in 1 beneficial task)

–   Field trip: Buy tickets to their favorite place, or a new site they haven’t visited before. Tickets can be put in a wrapped box to make it seem more like a concrete gift.

–   Telescope: Place it at the roof top, or make trips to the wild to check the stars at night.

–   Magician kit: Guide them into becoming a performer of tricks. Plan a show and invite family, relatives, and friends to watch.

–   Chess, special deck of cards, cooking apron, etc… that are simple enough, but can be made attractive if presented right.

These are just few ideas and if we give it more thought, we can have many more varied options. Parents, however, need to couple these with a prepared or arranged time to actually make use of such gifts as soon as possible. Each child may find different ideas more appealing depending on their needs, personality, and age. This is when parents need to be creative. Longer periods of parental company eventually will increase the value of what’s being offered especially if parents rarely participated in doing things like that.

Give us some more ideas about spending quality time with kids on the holidays.

Quality time – as opposed to quantity time – refers to the time parents spend being fully present and engaged proactively with their kids. It’s not about being there passively with no interactions. Several surveys of school children asking them what constitutes a “happy family” frequently were answered as “doing things together”. The best idea, therefore, during the holidays is to actually prepare for the festivities together with the kids. This is what kids would enjoy doing most no matter what their age is. Helping each other decorate for occasions, shopping for the necessities, and actually preparing for those times are great opportunities to make it a fun memorable period. When parents engage kids in more team work, they set a better mood for any occasion. The extra time on vacation can, also, be used in scheduling special outings or other innovative activities that include all family members. Things like:

–   Special family lunches or dinners at home or in new exotic restaurants.

–   Watching old “home videos” – if available – to re-visit how kids were when younger (this is a very appealing family activity for all members by the way).

–   Arranging, or scanning family photo albums.

–   Hold a “car wash” day for all to participate in.

–   Have an old “sheet” fort built inside the house (for youngsters)

–  Play cardboard game (monopoly, bingo, …) or “spin the bottle” or other games.

–  Gather “old” toys together; and take the kids to donate the stuff to the less fortunate or to charity.

Again, these are only few ideas to provide kids with experience and good memories about family quality time.

These activities do engage kids, but what do these offer the child exactly besides experience and memories?

These activities give children the chance to connect better to their role models. The conversations parents hold with their kids as they do varied activities allow for implicit guidance, fostering good ties, and nourishing the kids’ primary needs with a bigger dose of “care”. Parents may even need to plan times for deep conversations to dig into their kids’ primary concerns and challenges. In the end, we can summarize what kids truly need as:

–          Feeling loved, secure, and connected with.

–          Assurance of their high value.

–          Prioritizing their basic needs.

–          Plenty of praise and emotional support.

–          Smiles, hugs, talking, and listening to.

–          Learning new things.

–          Structure to their days.

These would be the ultimate gifts we can provide be it on special occasions, or during routine days. Kids would rarely remember tangible gifts as adults. Memories of good times with their parents are far more enduring. It has been said that the best things in life no money can ever buy.

Does age or gender affect these needs differently?

Both males and females need these basics alike. The way we demonstrate these towards either may vary. For instance, teenage boys wouldn’t like to be kissed or hugged all the time as when they were babies. Girls being more affectionate wouldn’t mind the open display of emotions as much. Furthermore, parents need to respect these needs relevant to the child’s age. The older a child gets, the more it is necessary for parents to give them latitude of choice and acknowledge their becoming more independent.  Parents can, also, vary the kids’ activities I mentioned above to suit better their age and gender better depending on their interests. What’s most important is to convey support to those kids and expose them to variety. Many parents unintentionally engage their kids in stereotypical activities for each gender without giving them a choice. That wouldn’t be the best idea.

Any last comments or tips for the festive season?

We’ve highlighted the importance of the gift of “Time” as the best gift we could offer our children. I guess the same goes to all people we love. Let’s intensify the time we spend with family and friends. No one on their death-bed wished having worked harder. The most frequent regret is not spending enough time with the loved ones. Let’s use our time wisely.

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