Gift Guide
Parenting

The Only Gift Guide Children Actually Need

While there are thousands of toys and gadgets to buy for our kids, the most important gifts are often overlooked. In fact, anything truly meaningful in this world cannot be bought. 

Things that are given to us for nothing, we place little value on. The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true. Everything that’s really worthwhile in life is freely accessible to us. 

In this unique gift guide, we will take a look at five timeless qualities we should give our children.

1. Gift of Curiosity

What creates a child who wants to learn? According to research, the joy of exploration – the hidden force that drives learning, critical thinking, and reasoning. This ability is called curiosity

Most children start off with a natural appetite for curiosity, always asking the question, “Why?” This encourages them to explore the world around them. During the first three years of life, children spend their days discovering their environment through touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste.  

And yet, at some point during a child’s life, this innate curiosity starts to become suppressed. Without intending to, parents sometimes discourage their kids’ curious spirit with criticism and unreasonable expectations.

While can curiosity come across as immature or unproductive, nurtured curiosity can ignite a passion to learn. 

Curiosity

2. Gift of Purpose

Household duties may seem like a burden for children. We are constantly told to let our “kids be kids”. But the fact of the matter is that household duties offer a wonderful opportunity for children to learn responsibility and gain a sense of purpose. 

Children who participate in housework tend to feel more responsible and purposeful than those who don’t. This kind of participation is a first step toward an autonomous, self-driven life. 

To feel a sense of purpose, children should be encouraged to take responsibility for their household work.

While moms often fall into the pit-fall of being “good moms” picking up their children’s toys and messes, and taking majority of household chores onto themselves. This interruption can actually have detrimental effect. It teaches children that they’re independent efforts aren’t that important. 

Instead, we should assist our children in establishing their own systems of completing tasks. This will teach them to take initiative in getting things done.

Household duties should also be referred to as “family contributions” rather than chores. This will show children that their actions have value and that they play a key role in the family. 

Even young children can be responsible for household duties. 

Remember that delegating duties isn’t about having an immaculate house, it’s about sharing the effort to form a family bond and give your children a sense of purpose.

3. Gift of Boredom

Our children are growing up in a world with constant stimulation. When their amusement ends, even momentarily, we often hear our kids complain, “I’m borrred!” 

Before rushing to the tv remote or cellphone, give your child all the wonderful benefits that come with boredom. 

Boredom opens up a whole door of opportunities for a child to discover. They are able to take responsibility for managing their own time. Allowing our children to bored invites them to take initiative and figure out who they are. 

It sparks creativity and fosters independence. By constantly filling our children’s schedules, we risk burning them out early. Too many distractions means less time for wonder, imagination, and appreciation for the world around them. 

Netflix’s The Little Prince is a wonderful depiction of a child’s longing for the simple life, while being overscheduled and overstimulated. As parents, we obviously want our children to be prepared for their futures. But sometimes, we overextend our reach and risk discouraging our children’s ability to be amazed. 

When children find themselves with “nothing to do”, invite them to discover a solution without screen-time or new toys. Push them to exercise their creative muscles with prompts including project ideas or recycled material. At first, they may need help getting started. But once they’ve become engaged in their own little world, you can stand back and allow their imaginations to soar. 

Gift guide

4. Gift of Quality Time

Do you want to know how children spell love? T-I-M-E!

We want our children to be well-rounded. So while boredom teaches our children how to entertain themselves, quality one-on-one time teaches our children that they are loved. 

All children crave quality time with their parents. It is an innate human desire to be seen, accepted, and loved by those closest to us. 

As parents, we already spend so much time doing things for our children. But how much of our undivided attention do we actually give to our children? 

Quality time is meant to create meaningful connections with our children. It is not a task to hurry through and check off before moving onto our other responsibilities. Rather, special time carved out for our children tells them that we care. (If you need ideas for activities to do with your family during Christmas, read this article)

The benefits of quality time for children include improved cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, social skills, and physical development. Not to mention, as parents, we get to learn more about our children- their likes and dislikes, struggles and talents, and most importantly, who they are.  

For parents, knowing our children is crucial. Each child has been uniquely created and it is our duty as parents to know our unique child to help them grow into who they were meant to become. 

As Charles Swindoll puts it:

“We receive our children from the hand of God, not as soft, pliable lumps of clay, ready to be molded into what we think they should become. Each child comes with a set of abilities, intellectual capacity, and a way of perceiving and thinking, all of which were endowed by God. We can surely influence or even mold them to a certain extent, but our efforts have limits. One on hand, if parents ignore a talent, it may never emerge. On the other hand, if parents cultivate a talent, it will likely become part of the child… Help your children know themselves, like themselves, and be themselves, and their paths will become self-evident.”

Our time is one of the most important gifts we can ever give our children. This meaningful connection will allow us to help our children come to know themselves, grow to like themselves, and find satisfaction in being themselves. 

Parenting Quote - Chuck Swindoll

5. Gift of Generosity

As adults, we have learned that giving is far better than receiving. So how do we pass this knowledge onto our children? 

Giving is better than receiving for several reasons: 

  1. Giving connects us to other people
  2. It is an act of obedience to God (Luke 6:30)
  3. Generosity is healthy and contagious
  4. A selfless life is a meaningful life
  5. God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 8:1)
  6. There is a deep joy in giving
  7. God gave to us first (John 3:16)

In our modern world of consumerism, generosity is needed more than ever. We can give the gift of generosity by encouraging it, talking about it, and modeling it for our children. 

“See a need, fill a need.” Whenever you see someone in need, don’t hesitate to lend a helpful heart. When our kids see compassion in action, they will be more likely to reflect kindness and love. 

Growing up, it was a yearly tradition in my household to fill up a shoebox with gifts for Operation Christmas Child. Now that I have my own children, we continue to participate every year. This is such a fun way to involve children in giving. And it opens a door for discussions on grace and empathy for others.

Some other ways to model generosity today include:

  • Donate used (or new) toys to a non-profit charity
  • Volunteer
  • Sponsor a child
  • Practice hospitality
  • And SO much more!

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