How do we determine what to give our loved ones? What if we have a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other special needs? What gift is best for him or her? Many young children voice a desire to have just about everything they see. How do we know which gifts will survive their interest level more than a week after the holidays are finished?
While everyone has their own standards for making these determinations, here are just a few ideas that I’ve considered over the years:
- What are your goals for your child, both short-term AND long-term? Does the gift promote that goal? For example, if you want your child to learn the alphabet, does the gift use an engaging way of doing that with your child? If you want your child to grow up to be someone who reads for fun, are you choosing a book that he or she can’t resist (and will want to go to the library to get more?) If you want your child to develop and use social skills, perhaps a board game or outdoor game (a ball and two gloves) would promote that better than a handheld computer game or a personal MP3 player with headphones.
- If the gift is something your child “desperately wants,” how long has that desire been present? If the answer is “just during the last 5 minutes while we’ve been waiting in line at the grocery store,” or “just since he saw it in the toy catalog that arrived today in the mail,” the gift is less likely to survive the holidays than one that your child has been asking or saving for and talking about for the last three months.
- Is the gift likely to promote your child’s social development? Is it something that can be used with others, either at home or at school? Will others be interested in it?
- Is the gift consistent with the values you’re trying to teach your child? Is this the type of gift you hope he or she will give to friends or family members someday? Would you choose to have your child devoting time and attention to this item?
- Does the gift hinder your ability to provide for your child’s needs throughout the year? It’s sometimes tempting to make a financial stretch to provide something special during the holidays. However, if it comes at the expense of structure, normalcy, and a relatively stress-free life during and after the holidays, it might not be worth it!
I’d love to hear from you! What was the best gift you ever received, or the best gift you ever gave your child? What strategies guide your gift-giving? Share your comments or stories here!
Enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones!