The Valuable Gifts to Give to Children
In this day and age, Instagram and other social media networks largely influence the way we parent. We took photos of every milestone and decide if they are post-worthy. We wanted the likes to come in and compliments to pour in. When little Johnny first ate solid food, when little Martha first pooped in her potty, we grab the smartphone instead of reveling in the moment.
Not only that. We also compare our posts to that of others. We secretly want to outdo them all! Have we somehow missed what is truly valuable?
Are we giving the children a false impression that the true value of a moment is gaged on how many likes it amassed in social media?
It will not hurt to unplug once in a while. Instead of polishing the art of posting the glossy side of life or of parenting, which takes a lot of time, let’s give them instead these time-tested gifts.
The Gift of Unconditional Love
Children needed to know and feel that they are loved and valued no matter what. They can be difficult, they can push parents to the limit, and they fall behind expectations – but over and above everything, they need to know they are still loved –warts and all.
According to a study from UCLA, children who experienced affection and unconditional love are emotionally happier and stress-free. When parents put too much pressure and at the same time do not display parental warmth, children can develop health risks such as high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, the study indicated.
But when parents shower their children warmth and affection, they grow healthier, have better grades and higher self esteem.
What are the important things to remember when raising children with unconditional love? Here are some questions to ask yourself :
Do I compare my child to others? (Or with a sibling?)
Comparing your child to others seemed to be the easiest way to assess your child’s performance. You might even think you are giving your child a role model to follow. But comparing him/her, the child feels burdened by the pressure. When the feeling of “never good enough” settles in, it can develop into low self esteem and self worth. Instead of comparing, appreciate your child’s uniqueness and effort.
Do I discipline my child with love and not out of anger?
Suffice it to say that you don’t love your children when you fail to discipline them. No matter what discipline methods you use, it is important to note the desired outcome of discipline : changed behavior. When anger gets hold of you when you’re disciplining, chances are you will say words or actions that could humiliate the child, and demean his/her value. Never discipline the child when you are still angry.
What is my reaction when they fail?
Children are quick to notice if we are disappointed with them when they fail. Give them the assurance that your love is not based on their performance. Teach them instead how to deal with failures positively.
The Gift of Active Play
If there’s one thing that you could give to your children that could influence them for a lifetime, it’s the gift of active play. Play is a basic human right and is widely acknowledged as an essential part of human development.
It’s easier to give a child a mobile phone and electronic tablet as a gift because it’s the latest thing (and can be made as temporary baby sitter!) Unfortunately, there are plenty of research indicating the negative effects of too much screen time of children.
In one of the studies, they found that children aged 8 – 11 spent 3.6 hours in front of a TV, a mobile phone, computer screen or tablet. The suggested limit is just two hours. The lead author of this study Jeremy Walsh said that, “We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development.”
If your child is under three years of age, another researcher advised not to allow them to watch TV. The pediatricians in America also favor a total ban on screen time until at least 18 months. It’s not easy nowadays, but it can be done!
Parents play a vital role in encouraging children to be active each day. Getting involved in games and activities with the kids in your life is a great way to encourage them to be more active – and the health benefits of this goes a lifetime. Parents who have an active lifestyle empowers the kids to have them too!
If children don’t develop good physical habits early in life, they increase their risk of being overweight later in life. Obesity can lead to serious problems not just physically, but it can also lead to poor self esteem and depression.
One of the best strategies to reduce the chances of childhood obesity is to develop right eating and exercise habits. By engaging them to active play, especially outdoor play, the children are having fun and at the same time, they are developing fine and gross motor skills.
Grab a bag and go!
Let them run, crawl, swim, bike, jump, throw and catch, leap. Engage them in activities that could make them breathe faster and deeper and their heart beat faster. Allow them to sweat, get warm, and have redness in their cheeks. These unstructured play activities also boost their imagination, independence and social interaction with others.
When you are a parent of toddler and preschooler, scout for a safe and stimulating place in your area: a park, a playground, a zoo, a backyard, a beach, any open space to run around.What do you need to prepare for these outdoor adventures? Well, aside from diapers and extra clothes, your backpack diaper bag for your kid should have the essential things like:
- Water and snacks
- Insect repellant
- Calamine lotion
- Antibacterial wet tissue
- Basic first aid kit (cotton swabs, ointment, bandages)
Don’t worry about the minor cuts and scrapes, bumps and bruises from time to time. Though it is normal to worry but this is part of outdoor play. It helps the children learn from mistakes. Children who didn’t have the chance to explore, learn and discover things from outdoors are actually the ones who get seriously hurt when they have outdoor experiences.
The Gift of Legacy
When you search for a definition of ‘legacy’, you will find a meaning that says, “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will. But limiting legacy to money and property inheritance is a very narrow definition. Legacy can mean a lot of things. It could mean a heritage – a social, emotional and spiritual legacy that could be passed on from parent to child, from one generation to another.
In the book, ‘Your Heritage: How to Be Intentional About the Legacy You Leave,’ the authors, Ledbetter and Bruner, discussed ‘The Fragrance Five’ using the AROMA acrostic:
A – Affection
It includes displaying affection such as touch (hugs, kisses) and demonstrating words of endearment not just when they achieve but also sharing words of comfort and assurance when they fail.
R – Respect
A famous evangelist once said, “A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.” Parents have entitled respect because of their role as an authority but they should also earn respect.
There are three R’s of order, namely: Rules, Roles and Rights. Children need to have a clear and definite set of rules at home. They also need to know their roles and what is expected of them. Once the rules and roles are clear, the children should be given rights to have a voice and opinion in family decisions.
Is is said that a home should be for the children the most attractive place in the world. A child should see the home as a place where he is most secure and happiest – a place of fun and laughter.
Words of encouragement are crucial in building up your child’s self esteem. There is this undeniable power of uplifting words –written and spoken – to children. Deny this to your children and they will seek them elsewhere to fill the void.
These are the sweet smelling fragrances and intangible gifts that we can give to our children. The gift of unconditional love, the gift of active play, the gift of a legacy.
Assess your family priorities and the activities that fill up your calendar. What character traits and values will your children remember you by?
It’s hard work to go outside and play, to always have a backpack diaper bag ready, go to field trips and stay engaged in their lives, process their feelings and create a legacy.
It’s hard work but it is the most fulfilling and rewarding.
We must give these most valuable gifts because it’s going to be worth all the effort.