This post by Jean Matthew Hall is part of a ten-part series for parents on the Five Love Languages of Children. It is based primarily on the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell, M.D. (Northfield Publishing, 1997)
Problems with Giving Gifts:
Birthdays, Christmas and other celebrations are wonderful, fun opportunities to give our children gifts. Giving and receiving gifts can powerfully communicate love, or other less desirable things. Some parenting styles run into problems with this aspect of communicating love.
How many gifts is too many? How often is too often? Do gifts need to be earned? How much is too expensive? What’s the difference between a gift and a reward? Are gifts expected by your children? Are they demanded? Do gifts from parents come with some expectation or cost? Are parents giving gifts to replace the other Love Languages?
Key Elements of Gift Giving to Children:
• Tangible gifts cannot replace Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Acts of Service.
• Generosity and the grace of giving have little to do with the price tag of the gift.
• Purchase gifts thoughtfully, not based on advertisements and popularity.
• Not every gift (toy) needs to be educational.
• Lavishing children with gifts dilutes their significance and their power to say, “I love you.” It also leads children to expect to be showered with gifts, and to become selfish.
• Gifts should be genuine expressions of love.
• Except for special surprises (like Christmas and birthdays) most gifts should be picked out by both the parent and the child.
• Often the best gifts don’t come from a store. Hand-made gifts, tickets to events, special meals out bring just as much joy.
• Never attach conditions or strings to gifts you give children.
For children whose primary Love Language is Gifts:
• These children will always react BIG to gifts with joy and excitement.
• They expect fanfare! They want gifts wrapped or special delivered.
• They love to open their gifts with your undivided attention.
• They will have lots of “keepsakes” and make a special place in their room for the gift. They’ll hang onto gifts for a long time. Every time they see or use the gift they will remember that you love them.
• Gifts are more than mere objects to these children. They are truly expressions of your love for them.
• Anticipating Christmas and birthdays can be agony for these kids. Be patient with them.
• They also love to GIVE gifts to the people they love. Help them.