As we approach the holiday season, your thoughts may be turning to gifts. Here are a few gifts that you can give to your children — at no expense to you and with amazing benefits for them. You can even give them right now. There is no need to wait.
• Greater responsibility: Each month, consider one thing that you are doing for your child that they could do for themselves. It could be picking out their own school clothes, waking themselves up in the morning or setting their own study time.
• The power to choose: Children practice decision-making when they are given choices. If you want your child to be decisive and to learn the law of cause and effect, provide your child with choices rather than commands. “Do you want to wear the blue pants or the red pants?” “You can bounce the ball outside or in the garage. Which do you choose?”
• Their own jobs: Chores are highly underrated. In her TED Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author and former dean at Stanford University, said studies have shown that professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid. Making a contribution in your family through doing chores not only teaches skills but also fulfills the need that we all have to feel valuable. From doing chores, Lythcott-Haims said, kids “realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life.”
• The gift of failing: Resilience is a key factor in adult happiness. It is through making mistakes — through failing — that we learn to bounce back with resilience. Wendy Mogel’s book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, speaks to her philosophy that “allowing children to fall down and pick themselves up (with kisses as needed) is the way to raise resilient, self-confident kids.”
• The freedom to say no: Allowing your children to say a respectful no to you gives them practice saying no to any risky, unhealthy or inappropriate things they might encounter now or down the road. Kids who can say no at home know that they can confidently say it elsewhere. At home, that no is certainly not the end of the conversation.
Enjoy giving these gifts that teach lifelong skills to your children. These are very special gifts that don’t break, wear out or go out of style.