Sep 18

Gifts For Kids That Are Not Toys

Recent trends among young TikTok users ring an alarm there is something wrong in the way we raise our children today. As parents, we should take a more active role in upbringing well-rounded, happy children who have worthy life goals and equipped with motivation to achieve them.

With the holiday season around the corner, many parents and family members will be on the hunt to buy Christmas gifts for kids. And while I completely relate to the idea of putting a smile on my kids’ faces when they find their presents among Christmas stock stuffers, I am conscious about giving them more than yet another entertaining gift. I want to give special gifts that are not toys and that help them find their life purpose and create value as they grow up.

A little fore note: my elder daughter is 8 years old and she is very keen to have a mobile phone of her own. And while I understand that I cannot fully protect her from the harm of social media, I can guide her to navigate this ambiguous world by immersing her in different life experiences to help stand her grounds when she’ll hit teen age.

To help my children draw on good values when they come across these damaging trends (there’s no guarantee they won’t), here is a list of things I’m planning to do with them instead of stuffing their room with more toys.

Visit patients in hospital care.  

When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, I often visited doctors and saw many, many people, including kids, attached to tubes and unable to leave the hospital floor. I’d bring my kids to an outside area, if unable to stay at the reception, where they could see those patients. I’d ask them these questions: “What do you think is the biggest dream of these people?”, “When they recover and return home, do you think they’d waste their life by joining social media challenges, like those on TikTok, or would they value every second and live life to the fullest?”   I hope this will teach my daughters about the greatest gifts we often take for granted – our lives and health, the opportunity to walk, eat and do whatever we want – all by ourselves. And I intuitively feel their emotions will give them the best answers so they firmly stand their grounds when they come across destructive ideas from peers.  

Visit an orphanage.

Not everyone in this world has a privilege to sit around a family table at Christmas, hug their parents and create cute gifts to hang in mom-and-dad’s bedroom. This is another priceless gift for kids to value instead of yet another giant puzzle. And directing kids’ energy towards making small gifts for orphans or empowering them to liaise with the management and enquire about possible support they can provide collectively with their friends, is so powerful and so precious!  

Visit a workplace.

One of the biggest challenges for me as a parent is the lack of need for my kids to work (as in helping adults with physical work). With lots of time to play (and lots of toys to enjoy), they are detached from real world experiences. And to give them food for thought about what they’d like to do when they grow up, I’d bring them to a few corporate offices of different industries, for an hour or two, to have a look at how people work, communicate, and behave (luckily, there is no need in going far to make such arrangements through former colleagues or friends). By exposing them to the work environment, they will draw inspirations first hand. And my expectation is not for them to fall in love with accounting or lab experimenting.

The idea is to help them identify what it is they’d like to explore further and what is definitely not captivating their minds.

Having a yummy snack afterwards and talking about possible professional journeys of people they’ve come across will no doubt plant a seed in their minds for growing decisions about their future professions  

Spend time on a farm.

Whether it’s spending a weekend or just a farm visit, immersing in another life style is beneficial for kids in many ways. Not only they learn first hands about what it takes for the milk to reach their cereal bowl, they learn about other areas of farming, such as soil fertilisers, types of plans and special care they need, farm vets, etc. My girls are aspiring chefs and they can’t wait to learn about beekeeping and cheese making, as well as animal care.   My hope is to let them experience as many great things as possible, better even involve them in kids-friendly aspects of farming. At the end of the day, this is fantastic quality time as a family while expanding learning by active participation in the process!  

Teach kids develop entrepreneurial skills by monetizing their talents.

Both of my kids have had a taste of earning pocket money and having freedom to manage it. I do believe that parents should help children discover their talents that can benefit others. Even if they won’t go on to commercialise them, it is important to know their strengths and build them.

Kid entrepreneurship is an excellent opportunity to ignite a spark of learning and connect school knowledge to real life. Australian research found that having full financial freedom and independence is one of top 5 hopes of generation Z, and not having enough money to live comfortably is one of their top 5 fears.
So why not equip your child with the knowledge about entrepreneurship, to be on top of the money game in the future?

In the entrepreneurship course for kids “How To Start A Business For Kids”, children 8+ learn to find business ideas for kids, create value proposition, analyse competition, and how to effectively sell their products. Life-based education that involves personal interests of children is a great opportunity to help children find their purpose and guide their entrepreneurial minds.    

Final thoughts
When it comes to Christmas gifts for kids, or birthday gifts, think of them as a step towards laying firm foundations to prepare children to walk the walk of life. The journey they’ll soon take on their own starts in the family at a young age. And our choice of gifts for children contributes to raising inspired and driven kids willing to make a positive impact on their personal development, their families, communities, and the planet.   
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