What are the non-material gifts you can give your children this year?

The 10 Greatest Gifts You can Give your Children

The Gift of Feeling Fully

Feelings are a gift. Help your children learn to honor and experience their feelings. The only time feelings are harmful is if we deny them and feel guilty about them or let them out in a harmful way. Ask your children how they are feeling, give them words to label their feelings let them know it is OK to feel what they feel. Listen without judgement or interruptions and “sit with them and teach them how to feel.” ~Brene Brown.

The Gift of Self Esteem

Give enhancing and empowering messages. Catch your kids being good and acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest behavior that’s part of your overall vision for them. Be specific; try to use words that express the value you see: compassion, kindness, perseverance, honesty etc.

When you teach with questions rather than telling, you are allowing your children to express their own talents, abilities and creativity. Ask: What other ways can we solve this problem? What do you think would happen if we did it this way? What do you think is the best way to handle this?

The Gift of Compassion

Compassion means: being considerate of the other person’s point of view whether or not you agree with it; giving more than you take, walking in the other person’s shoes or more deeply, trying to understand what it is like to have his feet. “Teach compassion by practicing compassion, with yourself first and then with others.” Brene Brown.

The Gift of Balance

Help your children understand that the journey of life includes pain and joy, work and play, rest and activity. This is best taught by modeling balance. “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Gift of Humor

People who have a strong sense of humor display joy and trust, they are usually good communicators because they can see all sides of an issue and they know that making a mistake is not fatal. Practicing gratitude enhances your ability to feel joy.

The Gift of Communication

The gift of communication is not only a set of reading and writing skills, it is also an attitude of listening and understanding, of honoring the communicator for his/her thoughts and feelings, attitudes and gifts. Good communication requires the full attention of both people.

Learning to communicate well helps children learn to think. Remember back to a time when you expressed something out loud only to realize that you didn’t know that was what you thought until you said it.

The Gift of Abundance

This gift allows us to view the world as a place of endless choices, endless opportunities, endless chances, and endless growth. It is the idea that there is always another day and another way. It is a strength based approach to life. It is asking “What can I learn from this?”

“You see things and say ‘Why’; but I dream things that never were and I say “Why not?’”
George Bernard Shaw

The Gifts of Integrity and Responsibility

Integrity: “Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them”. ~Brene Brown

Being responsible is in part learning to make wise choices. The ability to make smart little choices now inevitably leads children to trust themselves to make more important choices about big things later. Again, children learn what they see, act responsibly and with integrity and they will learn to value this too.

The Gift of Conscious Choice

Conscious choice describes the idea that although we cannot control what happens in the world, we can control our response to it. Learn to look for the positive in the situation in order to choose how to react rather than feeling like a victim of the circumstance.

“Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” – Stephen R. Covey

The Gift of Being Seen

Connection can be described as: “The energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Dr. Brene Brown

We biologically need connection to thrive emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. The connectedness we experience in our relationships impacts the way our brain develops and performs. A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all men, women and children. When these needs are not met, we suffer and we numb.

Learn to see, understand and value the unique person your child is. Let them know they are loved and lovable, that they are worthy of love, belonging and joy, right now, today, just as they are. I believe there is no greater gift.

With my best wishes for a new year filled with these gifts-


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The majority of the information in this article is from the book: The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give my Children by Steven Vannoy. I have enhanced some of his descriptions with my own thoughts and experiences. I have also been greatly influenced by the work of Brene Brown. Many of the quotes I have included in this article are from her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto and her book Daring Greatly.