What to Give Your Child for the Holidays

by Tina Feigal © 2011


This holiday season, I’m encouraging you to give your child a different kind of gift than the one you visualized when you read this article’s title.

Each year, kids are excited about the gifts they will receive.  Visions of XBOX 360s, Wii’s, iPhones, skis, dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, Legos, and a variety of other gifts float through their heads.  After the holiday, the gifts often lose some of their allure, and kids are back to saying, “I’m bored.” So let’s focus instead on a gift that keeps on giving.

I’m going to suggest that you give your child a sense of himself as a needed person for a gift this year.  It’s something that doesn’t come to most adults during the annual holiday buying frenzy, but it’s a gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime.  So stop for a few minutes and think of ways you can set your child up for feeling really valued, cared for, and yes, generous, during this holiday season.  After all, isn’t that what we all want?  Kids with a strong sense of their place in the world as contributors?  You have the power in this special time of year to create a kid with a true sense of purpose, something he or she will remember for years to come.

To create a success around being needed, take your child into your confidence around a gift you are thinking of giving his sibling.  Ask, “Do you think she’d like the red sweater or this cute skirt better?”  Then take your child’s advice.  It’s more important to build a giving spirit than to get the perfect gift.

Ask what he thinks he’d like to give his sister, and then offer to help him get it if he’s too young to have his own money. Give him heartfelt appreciation when he makes a selection, and talk up his gift before it’s opened.  Say, “I love how thoughtfully you chose this for Samantha. I think she’s gonna love it.”

Let your kids see you giving to people outside the family who may be in need.  If you are donating toys, don’t just take care of it when they kids are in school, but include them in the selection and the dropping off at the collection site.  This way they feel part of something bigger than the immediate family, and remember how fortunate they are.  Or if there’s a needy family in your faith community, be sure your kids contribute some of their allowance to participate in the family’s giving efforts. If you want grateful, generous kids, put more of your effort into fostering their gratitude and generosity than into trying to please them.

Giving doesn’t have to be material.  If you see an opportunity for your child to push the ottoman closer to grandpa’s chair, give him the gift of quietly suggesting he do so.  If you see him spontaneously sharing his time with a younger cousin, be sure he hears how much you admire that.  If she works hard to maintain a good mood when in a crowd of people, give her positive feedback so she sees what you see, a child who makes an effort for others.

The chances to give your child kudos abound at holiday time.  Plan now to tap the present moment to focus on them, and watch him “glow” with a strong sense of his own strength as a giving person.  The benefits are immeasurable, and everyone receives them!

For parent coaching on what to give your child for the holidays or any other topic, contact Tina Feigal at 651-453-0123 or email tina@parentingmojo.com.

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