• Viera Pediatrics

Presents vs. Experiences

Remember growing up and feeling ecstatic about your upcoming birthday or the holidays? How exciting it was thinking about receiving that gift you'd been longing for? Your kids feel those same feelings today.

Time may have changed the types of gifts we long for, but it hasn’t changed this "great anticipation". Now that you're a parent, looking back at your own childhood and reflecting upon what you cherished most during gift-giving seasons can be a meaningful exercise. Was it an actual gift you remember loving, or was it the overall experience of giving and receiving, and spending time with family?

Read: Raising Thankful Kids

Teaching our children the value of doing rather than simply getting is a lesson that - much like a fine wine - will get better with age. Establishing the value of experiences in childhood can lead to a happier adulthood, improved mental health, and even more money in the bank! Immersive experiences, such as going to the movies as a family, camping, taking a painting class, or learning to play the piano are priceless memories or skills that will stick with kids for a lifetime.

Though opening gifts IS exciting, over time, toys loss their luster, apps are replaced with the next big thing, and wearable items ultimately end up in a donation pile somewhere. Regardless of the season, there will always be something your child wants desperately. However, what they really need to live a fulfilling and happy life has very little to do with tangible stuff.

Shared family time and experiences have been linked to:

  • better family bonding

  • fewer behavioral problems

  • a stronger sense of identity

  • a sense of security for children

  • higher rates of academic success

  • lower rates of violence

Come gift-giving time, try encouraging your family to identify experiences they'd like to pursue, either alone or together as part of their gift wish list. This requires kids (and adults!) to spend some time thinking about the types of experiences that enhance their lives - such as where they might like to go, what they might like to learn more about, who they might enjoy visiting, and what sorts of adventures and experiences excite them. This is often a great gateway into learning more about who your kids are becoming and how their interests are evolving.

When it comes to giving tangible gifts, adapting the “Rule of 4” is a great way to avoid going overboard, and encourages kids to think . The concept revolves around identifying ...

One Want

One Need

One to Wear

One to Read

We’re not saying to forgo material gifts forever. They are fine to sprinkle in here and there when you know your kids will use them for more than a few days (and then donating is a great option to teach them as well!). When it comes to what they’ll look back on and remember from their childhood, experiences with you and their siblings will take the cake! They’ll truly appreciate the memories and love you for providing them with happy times as well as pass the tradition along to their own children.

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