From the time our children are very young, we are constantly fielding birthday invitations and the related tasks that are added to our to-do lists. First an invitation arrives. We try to RSVP in time, we find time to pick up and wrap a gift, and we . By the time our children are in kindergarten, most of us have gotten pretty adept at the routine.
But one day, the automatic pilot we’ve been running on is called up short by one of our children. Suddenly they want to know more about the present you will buy for the party they are attending. When will you buy it? Where will you go? What will you buy? Can they come along to help choose?
We all know taking kids to toy stores can be a dangerous mission. No matter how many times we explain that our intention is to purchase a gift, chances are good we’ll end up with a disappointed child clutching a desired toy and unhappy feelings on all sides.
But where is the balance? As parents, don’t we also want to teach our children how and why it feels so good to give to others? Doesn’t it therefore seem natural to include our kids in the gift buying? The answers will vary family to family. Factors to consider include the age of your child, their personality and past experiences with shopping, and handling disappointments in general.
Where should you begin? We suggest letting the child’s interest guide you. When kids are very young, they can take part in small doses by decorating cards and envelopes, choosing gift wrap, and being the one to carry and present a gift at a party. As kids get older, you can start asking them for gift ideas and areas of interest. This helps them feel involved but keeps the shopping out of the equation.
As you see how your children handle each situation, you can choose to involve them more. Every child is different, and even two children raised in the same household can react very differently, so take your time and observe. While your child slowly grows to embrace the idea of giving and how to do it gracefully, look for other ways they can give. Can they make gifts and cards for others? Can they perform random acts of kindness, or come up with ideas for thoughtful gestures for family and friends?
There are always ways to teach children to give to others and live generously without entering a store at all. But the ability to do so is a useful skill, so it is always good idea to do what you can to encourage them to grow into handling it well.
Have your children asked to be a part of the gift selection process? How did you handle it? Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear them!