The Best Gifts Ever: Life Experiences Every Child Should Have

This past holiday season Canadians spent over $45 billion-with parents paying out almost $1.8 billion of that on their children's presents alone. However, the best gifts we can give our children can not be purchased in a store. And while they are within the grasp of all parents to give, not all children receive them.

What are these gifts?

Nothing more than six simple life experiences every child should have:

The gift of healthy habits. Children need to learn about and experience regular exercise, adequate sleep, and proper nutrition. Help instill these habits from an early age, or any age for that matter. Encourage your kids to get active. Explore and use your neighbourhood recreation centre. Re-discover walking. Teach the importance of healthy eating.

The gift of unconditional love. Show your children how much you love them-with your words and actions. Let them know that you will always be there for them. Teach your children to separate their actions from their sense of self. Explain that while you might sometimes be disappointed or even furious with their actions, you will always love them.

The gift of compassion. As a family you might volunteer your time or talents to assist those in need. Some families agree to donate 10% of each child's allowance to a charity of his/her choosing. Consider sponsoring a child, or adopting an abandoned pet from your local SPCA or Humane Society. Teach them the value of action-getting involved and selflessly giving of yourself so that others may gain.

The gift of potential. Help your children discover their own unique talents, as well as identify new ones. Try various activities and explore areas of interest. Nurture their potential through hobbies, visits to the library, or talking to people in various fields. Guide gently-giving your trust, encouragement and congratulations along the way. Sometimes all they need is for someone else to believe in them before they believe in themselves.

The gift of optimism. Children and teens can often feel overloaded or overwhelmed by situations and events. Teach your child that every situation can be overcome. Learn about self-talk, and to focus on what you have, rather than what is missing-letting go of "what should be". It has been rightly said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

The gift of humour. Children laugh all the time, but later in life we sometimes lose the ability to find the lighter side of situations. Show your kids it's OK not to take themselves too seriously. Nothing reduces stress, or can change your attitude faster than a smile or good giggle-such is the power of laughter.

While we'll continue to buy gifts for our kids, let's make sure the six above are also given along the way. They may not be as exciting to receive as the latest game or toy, but as our children grow older and reflect on their lives, they will be truly thankful to have received them.

©2005 Rob Stringer.com - Reprinted with permission

Award-winning educator, speaker and author, Rob Stringer coaches and assists parents with his upbeat approach to learning, and parenting. For more ideas, resources or workshop information, visit http://www.RobStringer.com or call (905) 544-1938 today.

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