Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Gift Giving and Opening

Christmas morning, or any holiday that gifts are involved, is a great learning time for children. Remember, learning is not a mundane activity for children (or, at least it shouldn't be!), but it is how they take in the messages from the world around them. I'm often asked what presents are appropriate to give, and here is my general response. Don't believe the marketing hype! Children do not need bells and whistles for them to enjoy a gift, in fact, children often tire of those gifts quickly because they not using their skills to play with them. Try choosing gifts that are kid-powered instead of battery powered. They will work on using their own creativity and imagination skills, not the preset stories or games that are being fed to them. I also advise to stay away from commercialized gifts, not to stick it to the man necessarily, but to allow the child to take that toy wherever his or her own imagination takes them instead of scripts that have been seen in the movies or television programs. Also, limit gifts to just a few special ones (and retire an equal number to charity) to avoid neglected toys that could be put to good use by another child. Children easily become overwhelmed with holiday gifts and the WOW factor wears off as more and more gifts are opened. A few gifts will be more meaningful than many. Ask yourself how many holiday gifts you remember. When your children are opening gifts, allow them to use each gift for as long as they like. This is how they explore and appreciate, when they are going at their own pace, rather than an assembly line of open, put aside, open next one.

Most importantly, let your child be very excited about giving gifts to someone else, whether it is a homemade gift or a gift they help you pick out at the store. Show them how special it is to give. This year my daughter made coasters to give to her family, and delighted in telling them that she painted them. Next year, we will begin charitable gifts as well.

Enjoy your time with your family and your traditions. It is one of the most special gifts you can give your children.

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