The mad dash is on. The after-Thanksgiving sales have kicked off nationwide and parents are frantically searching for the best deals on the most sought-after toys.
While iPads, phones, fitness trackers, headphones, drones, and just about everything else electronic tops kids’ lists this year, sometimes the best and most meaningful and memorable gifts don’t require batteries.
“I get asked all of the time what I might recommend,” said Dr. Rosemary Stein, a Burlington, North Carolina, pediatrician. “I tell parents to think about the different ‘areas’ of their child that they want to develop. Parents need to do a little thinking about their children — where they may need to be challenged, where they have a special gift, where they might need more interaction.”
Often, these gifts end up being more than a toy, she told LifeZette. “They become a gift for life.”
For children ages two to 12, Stein offers the following ideas for presents to put under the tree:
Anything young children can touch and build with make great gifts, said Stein. Lincoln Logs, really colorful blocks, and age-appropriate Legos are just a few examples of games younger children especially enjoy. Other family members can join in, too, and the interaction during these types of games is important.
“What’s great is you can always work on these together as a project for building and maturing fine motor skills,” said Stein. Sports items such as a football, soccer ball, or a baseball and bat are also great gifts to give along with a handmade certificate for time you’ll play with them.
[Puzzles] provide opportunities for great conversations to occur with your child.
In our fast-paced world, the fun and value of doing an old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle is often overlooked. But these gifts can be found for any age group, any level of development. They’re inexpensive, come in all shapes and sizes — and without the child knowing it, puzzles can challenge a child’s brain, dexterity, spatial reasoning, concentration, and logic. They also provide opportunities for great conversation to happen with your child, something electronics definitely lack. They allow you to accomplish something wonderful together, added Stein.
A series of books that are popular for a child’s age, or books that were your childhood favorites, are always great gifts to give. “Share books you absolutely loved. And then write a note in the front, telling your child why this is a special gift,” said Stein. “That’s something you’ll share and a special memory you’ll have. You can also read it together in the evenings. One of the nicest gifts someone gave our daughter was a classic set of children’s books. She still looks through them.”
Simple, classic board games give your child not only countless hours of fun, but something even more valuable — time with you. Taking the time to play with your children, listen to them and guide them offers them the self esteem that few electronic games can. Board games also help teach such social skills as verbal communication, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and how to win and lose well. Classic games like Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Monopoly, Boggle, Chess, Checkers, even Dominos and card games are all great options for gifts.
Stein offered one last thought about holiday gifts for kids. “Seeing a whole bunch of gifts under the tree is really cool. But you sort of overwhelm the child, and then you get them used to the notion that Christmas always means 10 or 15 gifts — and that love can be measured by the amount of gifts. That’s never good,” she said. “Two or three meaningful gifts really is all any child might need.”