The Best Gifts Ever: Life experiences every child should have
By Rob Stringer
This past holiday season Canadians spent over
$45 billion—with parents paying out almost $1.8 billion of
that on their children's presents alone. However, the best
gifts we can give our children can not be purchased in a store.
And while they are within the grasp of all parents to give, not
all children receive them. What are these gifts? Nothing more
than six simple life experiences every child should have...
The gift of healthy habits. Children need
to learn about and experience regular exercise, adequate sleep,
and proper nutrition. Help instill these habits from an early
age, or any age for that matter. Encourage your kids to get
active. Explore and use your neighbourhood recreation centre.
Re-discover walking. Teach the importance of healthy eating.
The gift of unconditional love. Show your
children how much you love them—with your words and actions.
Let them know that you will always be there for them. Teach your
children to separate their actions from their sense of self.
Explain that while you might sometimes be disappointed or even
furious with their actions, you will always love them.
The gift of compassion. As a family you
might volunteer your time or talents to assist those in need.
Some families agree to donate 10% of each child's allowance to
a charity of his/her choosing. Consider sponsoring a child, or
adopting an abandoned pet from your local SPCA or Humane
Society. Teach them the value of action—getting involved and
selflessly giving of yourself so that others may gain.
The gift of potential. Help your children
discover their own unique talents, as well as identify new ones.
Try various activities and explore areas of interest. Nurture
their potential through hobbies, visits to the library, or
talking to people in various fields. Guide gently—giving your
trust, encouragement and congratulations along the way.
Sometimes all they need is for someone else to believe in them
before they believe in themselves.
The gift of optimism. Children and teens
can often feel overloaded or overwhelmed by situations and
events. Teach your child that every situation can be overcome.
Learn about self-talk, and to focus on what you have, rather
than what is missing—letting go of "what should be". It
has been rightly said, "When you change the way you look at
things, the things you look at change."
The gift of humor. Children laugh all the
time, but later in life we sometimes lose the ability to find
the lighter side of situations. Show your kids it's OK not to
take themselves too seriously. Nothing reduces stress, or can
change your attitude faster than a smile or good giggle—such
is the power of laughter.
While we'll continue to buy gifts for our
kids, let's make sure the six above are also given along the
way. They may not be as exciting to receive as the latest game
or toy, but as our children grow older and reflect on their
lives, they will be truly thankful to have received them.
Award-winning educator, speaker and author, Rob Stringer coaches
and assists parents with his upbeat approach to learning, and
parenting. Learn how to create the family you desire. Explore
articles, activities and advice, and learn how to 'Parent with
Intention: The Art of On-Purpose Parenting!' For more ideas,
resources or workshop information, visit www.RobStringer.com, or
call (905) 544.1938 today.