Christmas is right around the corner! It’s time to start shopping!
There are lots of things parents could get for each child on their list… but lots of toys are just noisy or obnoxious, without really contributing anything positive to the child’s life.
This holiday season, give a lasting gift to your child (and a bonus reward for yourself!) by teaching the child something useful through your gift. Understanding the child’s developmental needs will help you choose a thoughtful and educational gift.
For your shopping convenience, CLICK ON ANY OF THE IMAGES BELOW for a quick link to Amazon!
Babies (0-18 months)
Babies have two main developmental goals: 1) learn how to use their bodies (fingers, hands, sitting up, crawling, walking, eating, etc.) and 2) build a relationship with loving adults around them.
Click on any of the images below for some great gifts that tailor to those needs:
- Sensory Objects
- Activity Cube
- Shape Sorters/Stackers
- Soft Blocks
- Plush Books
Toddlers (18 months-3 years)
Toddlers have mastered a few skills during their baby stage- such as walking, some talking, eating, etc.). Now that they are more capable, the big struggle for a toddler is to find ways to use these skills independently…. But this usually gets them into some trouble. Toddlers are exploring the world around them, learning their own limits, and learning their parents’ rules.
One important way that a toddler gains independence is through toilet training.
Learning to communicate through speech helps toddlers accomplish these developmental goals.
- Buckles, Snaps, Dressing
- Nuts and Bolts (Builds fine motor skills)
- Thick Cardboard Toddler Books
- Potty Seat
Early Childhood (4-6 years)
Children in early childhood are beginning their school years- bringing new challenges such as learning to sit still, wait their turn, stand in lines, listen and attend to the teacher, play cooperatively with friends… Not to mention academic demands like learning the ABC’s and reading.
Having mastered basic communication skills, they are able comprehend basic logic, such as cause and effect. Children at this age often struggle to comprehend abstract concepts.
Play really expands during early childhood as children’s imagination allows them to pretend with their friends.
- Dress Up/Pretend Play
- Color Coordinated Tea Set (Matching Skills)
- ABC Fun
- Beginning to Read Books
Middle Childhood (7-10 years)
Children in middle childhood are beginning to understand abstract concepts. They are ready for more advanced learning- in school (such as in math) and outside of school (such as in learning to use money).
They have excelled in their communication enough to grasp irony and humor.
With more understanding of why’s and how’s, these children are ready for advanced teaching about moral character. They can start deciding for themselves who and what they want to be. They can plan for the future and start setting goals independently.
These children have more awareness of their surroundings, so they start to catch on to social norms and expectations. Children start to take on roles at home and at school that define themselves. They are ready for a little more responsibility.
- Comics or Joke Books
- Geometric Blocks
- Chapter Books
- Pets or Pretend Pets
- Money Management Tools
- New Skills (Playing an instrument, sewing, cooking, etc.)
Late Childhood (11-12 years)
In late childhood, children are in a transitional phase. They are beginning to outgrow younger children and prefer to interact with older youth. They are looking for ways make themselves more accepted by teenagers.
This is a time of parental teaching and warning. These children usually haven’t hit the rebellion that often comes with adolescence, so they are still willing to listen to their parents. It is an important time for talking about peer pressure, sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying, how to use technology responsibly, porn, and other major topics that will arise during adolescence.
- LIFE Board Game
Adolescence (13-18 years)
Adolescence is surprisingly similar to the toddler stage. The main challenge for adolescents is to find independence, while still operating within their parents’ rules. Adolescents push boundaries, trying to find the limits.
They are almost adults- and need to be prepared for every situation that they will encounter when they hit adulthood. They need to be prepared for: cooking their own meals, managing their own money, keeping track of time, working a job, cleaning their own home, balancing work/school and play, having positive friendships, having positive romantic relationships, organization, being a responsible citizen, and graduating college.
Adolescents are also finding their own unique hobbies, interests, life skills, and exploring possible future careers.
Teens are strongly influenced by their peers, so any gift that will make the adolescent feel “cool” will help your child in their social skills.
- Cash (Encourage them to save some of it!)
- Appropriate Clothing/Shoes/Jewelry/Accessories
- Money Management Tools
- Time Management Tools
- Things for their Future Apartment/Dorm
- Tickets to the Movies, Gift Cards for Restaurants (For hanging out with friends)
- The Gift of Making Your Home “Teen Friendly”
Making your home “teen friendly” depends on your child’s interests and the interests of his friends. Adding perks to your house that appeal to them will encourage your teen and their friends to want to hang out at your house. This is awesome because you can get to know your child’s peers- and keep an eye on things to make sure they are being safe and responsible.
- Vacations/Family Time Rather than a Physical Gift
I’ve known families who go on a cruise, rent snowmobiles, or go for a hot air balloon ride with their teens instead of buying gifts for Christmas! This builds your family togetherness, and is a ton of fun!
Enjoy your new gift-giving confidence, knowing that your gift will be loved and useful.