The Psychologist’s Guide to Gift-Giving for Kids

gift giving

As the holiday season is in full-swing, many parents are wondering what to get the kids as gifts. Decades ago, gifts were a special occasion, and were likely to include anything from toys, to clothing, to uncommon fruits sold only during the holidays. However, today’s capitalistic culture means that these “gifts” are now found in everyday purchases. Chances are, your kids aren’t excited about a new pair of gym socks or a juicy orange, because these sorts of things are now viewed as necessities. In fact, toys are purchased just as often, which can lead parents, family, and friends wondering just what they can still buy for the kids… and, more importantly, what will be a valuable addition to the child’s growth. If you’ve met with a Littleton child behavior psychologist lately, you know that too much “stuff” can be a burden, and that many kids today are becoming overly materialistic. Here are some of the best gift-giving tips to help your child grow and succeed!

  1. Give experiences, not commodities. If your kids are buried under mountains of toys they never play with, give them something that will stand out—an exciting experience doing something they love! For example, consider taking a little one with an army of toy dinosaurs to visit a dinosaur museum, bring a teen with hair accessories strewn all over to the hair salon, schedule some time at the batting cages, go sledding—the sky is your limit! This shows the child that you value him enough to want to spend time with him, not just spend money. For “something to open up,” consider wrapping the tickets in a creative manner or including a little something that will be needed at the experience (a baseball bat for the batting cages, a new scarf for the sledding excursion, etc.).
  2. Give the joy of giving. People feel good when they give to others. Share this joy by taking a child with you on a volunteer trip! There are so many holiday opportunities at food kitchens, gift collections, coat collections, and so on. These are great opportunities to develop and practice strong social skills.
  3. Give gifts that promote connection. For example, a board game is pretty boring for one, but a great chance for family to engage. Some other great ideas include cooking sets, construction/building sets, or other activities made for two or more.
  4. Make “re-gifting” a family activity. We all have stuff we don’t use… challenge each family member to re-gift at least one possession to others who might use them more or like them better, emphasizing the fact that presents do not have to be new to be appreciated by someone else.

Of course, never be too inflexible! If your child is in love with the newest stuffed toy of the season, would climb a mountain to get credit for a video game, or anything else, this is still an okay time to splurge—however, for those who just seem “over” their material goods or need a boost toward something more meaningful, these ideas can help. To find out more about child development, check back on the blog regularly or call Dr. Steve Lazarus for children’s play therapy in highlands ranch.

Categories: parenting strategies, psychology news