By Jana Pritchett, Communications Manager at Youth First, Inc. – Updated 12/15/2022
Christmas is almost here, and kids everywhere are hoping to be on Santa’s good list. Popular toys like Squishmellows and LOL Dolls are on many kids’ lists, as are classics such as Star Wars figurines, LEGO sets, and Barbie.
We all hope to give our children the presents they want, but what do our kids really need from adults this holiday season? What gifts can mom, dad or grandparents provide to help them become happy, healthy, successful adults?
Here is my list of the essentials:
1. Security and stability. Kids need the basics — food, shelter, clothing, medical care and protection. In addition, a stable home and family environment make them feel safe, and being part of a family gives them a sense of belonging.
2. Full attention. Be present. Turn off your phone, the TV and all gadgets and listen to them, especially at mealtimes and bedtime. Removing distractions lets them know they’re special and there’s no need to compete for your attention.
3. Time. Spend quality family time together. Take the whole family to pick out a Christmas tree or to see a ballgame or holiday concert. Take each child on mom and dad “dates” to create special memories and boost their self-esteem, especially if they’re used to sharing parent time with siblings. Spending quality time together encourages deeper conversations and strengthens the bonds between parent and child.
4. Love. Saying and showing your kids you love them can help overcome just about any parenting “mistake” you might make. Even when your kids have disappointed, frustrated, angered or disobeyed you, they must know you will always love them.
5. Affection. Don’t wait for your children to come to you for hugs. Regular physical affection helps strengthen and maintain your emotional connection with kids of any age. When that bond is strong, kids act out less often and know they can come to you for support.
6. Emotional support. Through good and bad times, kids must know you are there for them. According to Dr. Harley Rotbart of Children’s Hospital Colorado, “Parents’ words and actions should facilitate kids’ trust, respect, self-esteem and ultimately, independence.”
7. Consistency. Parents need to work together to enforce rules. Important values should not be compromised for the sake of convenience or because the kids have worn you down. If parents are no longer married, mom and dad should still try to communicate and work together whenever possible to maintain consistency.
8. Positive role models. Parents are their kids’ first and most important role models. Kids see plenty of bad behavior in the media. Be the kind of person you want them to become and don’t just give “lip service” to good behavior.
9. Education. Give your kids the best possible shot for their future by stressing the importance of education. Providing guidance and teaching them life lessons during the time you spend together is also important.
Spending quality time with your kids is the best solution for just about any parenting dilemma. This holiday season and in the New Year, don’t stop with what’s on your child’s wish list. Give them what they really need — the gift of being the best parent you can be.