An article from a child development expert at Kansas State University caught my eye this week with some great advice on Christmas gift giving. I wholeheartedly agree with Bronwyn Fees when she says, “the best gift parents can give their children for Christmas may be helping them understand less can be more. Be careful not to confuse more things with more love.”
Many times the best gifts are not purchased, but are the time spent and memories made with the ones they love and who care for them. Look for ways to spend time together like reading special stories, taking a walk or making simple treats together. From birth through kindergarten, children’s expectations are based on what they see and hear from their parents, but the older a child gets, the more their peers have an influence on what they want for gifts.
Parents have the responsibility to create a Christmas holiday for their children that is consistent with the beliefs of the family. Gifts should be age appropriate. If the child is 3 and the toy is for ages 5 and up, it would not be the best idea to purchase that particular toy. It may not be safe for the child or it may require skills the child has not yet developed.
The more open-ended the gift is the better. Gifts like building blocks, big pads of paper, markers, paints and crayons and tape inspire imagination and creativity that may last longer than a repetitive video game or electronic device.
Another criterion that a good gift should have is that it encourages socialization. Researchers have argued that young children learn best when engaged with someone more mature, such as an older peer, sibling or adult. Children want and need your time. It is also important for parents not to promise more than they can give. When children ask for a specific toy for Christmas and parents accept or promise to get it for them, it is important that the parent realizes an expectation has been set. If the child does not receive the promised gift, it can lead to disappointment and possibly a loss of trust.
In spite of the “busy-ness” of the season I hope you can find some simple joys in the time spent with your children and grandchildren this Christmas season. That time spent together will be the best memory in the end. Merry Christmas!
Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at: (620)793-1910 or email@example.com