Brain Snacks: Gifts

Brain Snacks: Gifts

We may think that giving gifts is merely the giving of material things that our children might enjoy. However, there is more to this, especially when our child’s love language is receiving gifts. Gifts are tangible representations of how we can express our love. Sometimes it is easy to buy and give gifts as a way to replace the other love languages, but it does not work that way. Giving gifts will only be meaningful to our children if their emotional love tank is full and if their main love language is receiving and giving gifts.

“[The] child’s emotional love tank must be filled for the gift to express heartfelt love.” 

Chapman, 2012

 A child whose love tank is not full may have the tendency to misinterpret receiving gifts.

For the gift to be a true expression of this heartfelt love, it should be unconditionally given without the expectation of a reward because a gift that is deserved is a payment. When we ask our children to clean their room in exchange for a “gift”, that is considered a payment, and not a gift. Additionally, saying “Do this, then I’ll give you that.”, is not gift giving, but rather a form of bribery to our children.

Make the most out of gift giving!

Give the gifts sincerely and with great love. Our gifts need not to be expensive or brand new. Young children do not have the concept of money. Sometimes they might even enjoy the box it came in more than the gift itself! Again, it is the thought that counts. A simple gift wrapped with care for example, gives a sense of emotional thrill when our children open it. Gifts that stimulate creativity tend to be more meaningful to children which binds us more closely to them. 

We should also teach our children to receive these gifts with gratitude and to respond with grace. With this, we can let them know that every gift that they receive is an expression of our love, be it a necessity or a luxury.

We have to be careful!

Indeed, it is tempting to shower our children with a lot of gifts as a way to show our love. Parents who tend to do this may have valid intentions, but are unaware of how to provide emotional security. With this kind of practice, children may grow up to be materialistic and manipulative. Also, excessively giving them gifts, like toys, removes its novelty, and they will eventually have difficulty attaching meaning to these gifts. Appropriate toys will help a child learn to focus his attention. If you’d like to know more about toys, you may read our blog post on Toy Rotation. Still, nothing beats the best gift that we can give, which is our presence and undivided attention.

Does your child have the love language of gifts?

If your child’s love language is giving and receiving gifts, here are some ideas which we can try to express our love to our children.

  • Keep a small collection of inexpensive gifts and give them one at a time, or when you sense the need to do so. 
  • Choose presents that fit your child’s interests. 
  • Hide a small gift in your child’s lunch box. 
  • Create a treasure hunt for a gift!
  • Buy or make your child a special ring or necklace to wear that is just from you. 
  • Give your child a “song” that reminds you of them.
  • Give personally made coupons for your child that are redeemable for some of their favorites.
  • Make memorable snacks by serving them on a special plate.

References:

Chapman, G. D., & Campbell, R. (2012). The 5 love languages of children: The secret to loving children effectively.