HOW TO GIVE YOUR CHILD MORE ‘MEMORIES’ AND LESS ‘STUFF’

The latest toys and gadgets might be the easier options when it comes to giving gifts, but nothing beats the kinds of experiences that create long-lasting memories and enrich your little one’s experience of the world.

First published at kidspot.com.au on February 16, 2016.

Think back to when you were a child … what is your favourite memory? Perhaps it’s a family holiday at the beach, or of you jumping on the trampoline in your backyard; winning a ribbon at your school’s swimming carnival or cuddling a baby brother or sister for the first time …

Now try and remember five birthday gifts you received over the course of your childhood … It’s not easy, is it, and there’s good reason for that. In hindsight, the ‘things we got’ as kids were never as memorable or remained as important to us as the ‘things we did’. And this is as true today as it was when we were young.

Buying your child the latest toys for their birthday may be cheaper, easier and more convenient time-wise than planning and executing a day out making memories, but it is also of much less value to your little person’s experience of the world.

So this year, we’re setting a challenge … instead of giving our kids a big pile of plastic toys at Christmas and on their birthdays – that they’re likely to grow out of and forget about anyway – let’s use celebrations as an opportunity to gift them with lasting memories.

The types of ‘memory gifts’ you can give to your child are only limited by your own wonderful creativity! But to get your started, below are a few simple ideas, big and small,

Create an annual tradition

Take the emphasis off ‘stuff’ by establishing an annual tradition around a celebration or festivity, which doesn’t necessarily involve or require the consumption of material things.

For example, each year on your child’s birthday, go fishing or hiking or camping, together as a family. Or visit your child’s favourite restaurant or eatery every year for a special celebratory dinner.

Go to Disneyland

Combine your family’s birthday and Christmas budgets and take them on the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland! While it may involve some saving and a bit of planning on your part, it also promises to be an unforgettable experience and one your children will cherish for the rest of their lives.

This year Disneyland is celebrating a magical milestone – its 60-year Diamond Celebration, with dazzling new experiences for the young, and the young at heart. So there’s never been a better time to go than 2016!

Be a role model 

You need to lead by example, which is a polite way of saying ‘practice what you preach’! As a parent you need to be consistent in modelling appropriate behaviour. So if you are always out to get the latest phone or clothes or car, the likelihood is that your kids will adopt those same values.

As Kidspot’s resident psychologist Dr Couslon says, as parents we set the example, and if we buy the lie that having nice things is the highway to happiness, our children will fall into step behind us.

Teach your kids how important experiences are over material things by showing them how it works. To do this, instead of asking for presents for your birthday, you might ask the family to take you to an art gallery or the zoo for the day, so you can all share in the experience together.

Gift their gifts 

How’s this for a nifty idea … instead of accepting presents at your child’s birthday party, ask guests to donate to a charity close to yours and your child’s heart. This is called a charity birthday pledge and it’s a fantastic way to teach your kids the importance of giving as well as receiving.

So many children in our world, in our county, in our cities and towns don’t have the amazing benefits and privileges our own kids enjoy. By using their birthday celebration as a means to raise money and awareness towards those less fortunate, our kids will learn about the importance of charity, and the experience will prove to be a memory gift of its very own.

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