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Every parent has experienced the phenomenon of watching a child toss aside a gift whose allure lasted only a few hours.
Not only do we, as adults, regret that we wasted our money, but we also feel that we have failed. As the holidays
approach, perhaps a different way to select gifts would be to focus on a child’s strengths and interests, and select
materials that involve and enhance those strengths.
If your child is a highly verbal child, books are an obvious choice, but there are other gifts that might also appeal to such
a child. Introduce your child to the great literary history of diaries and journals. Many children’s books are written as
journals, so a judicious selection of such books that might appeal to your child could get him/her interested in writing on
a regular basis. A lovely journal with a selection of pens in various colors would add a festive touch to get your child
started by recording memories of the holidays. If you think that writing is not quite your child’s métier, but that he/she
still loves to verbalize, how about a digital recorder? The possibilities abound with such a device: verbal journals,
pretend radio shows, original plays. And what about word games? Scrabble is the old favorite, but there are many
other choices in the toy aisle.
The visual child might love art supplies: painting kits, sets of markers, a variety of unusual papers, a set of oil pastels or
charcoal. If your child has developed an interest in art, a trip to a museum could be a special gift of both time and
exposure to great art. He/she might also have fun with something as “retro” as an Etch-a-Sketch. How about
scrapbooking? While the verbal child records events in a journal, a visual child might collect photos and memorabilia to
compile a scrapbook. The older child might be interested in photography or videography, so an inexpensive digital
camera with video capabilities could be a welcome gift.
The musical child would probably love CDs, concert tickets, sheet music (if he/she plays an instrument), or even a new
instrument to learn. Maybe a book of holiday songs would inspire your child to share his/her music with older friends
who are home-bound, or to involve friends in singing carols around the neighborhood.
A child who is a mathematical thinker will enjoy any logic-based game or book. There are so many books of puzzles that
it should be easy to find a variety appropriate to the age of any child. Books of brainteasers, 5-Minute Mysteries, or
problem-solving books might also be popular with such a child. If your child has discovered chess, a new chess set might
appeal. Computer games based on finance or economics could build on a child’s interest in numbers. For the young
child, a toy cash register and play money would help with imaginative play (a pretend “store” can always use a cash
If your child is a kinesthetic learner, you have many choices. Sports equipment comes to mind, as do video interactive
games, but there are more old-fashioned games that might be fun. Remember Twister??? If your child is more
interested in the outdoors and is a naturalistic learner, new hiking boots, maps or books of nearby trails and hikes, and
camping gear would help him/her expand both knowledge and enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits. Or maybe he/she loves
gardening, in which case gardening tools, seed packets, potting soil, and pots would help him/her get a head start on the
growing season. During the cold months, a trip to an indoor botanical garden would be a treat. After the holidays are
over, such a child might want to help replant your live holiday tree and use it as a way to feed birds by hanging seed balls
or suet cakes on its branches.
Whatever your child’s strengths and interests, choose gifts that will involve the child and YOU in activities that will last
throughout the long winter days. And as we all know, sharing an activity with your child is the best gift of all!