Make holiday gift-giving stress-free this season. An Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatrician shares her recommendations for gifts that both kids and parents will love

Child Health | 3 years ago

Making a Holiday Gift List? This Pediatrician Is Checking It Twice

This holiday season, give your kids a boost of creativity and some quality family time. How? An Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatrician shares her recommendations for gifts both kids and parents will approve.

Kids will soon be busy drawing up their holiday wish lists. But it’s one thing for parents to know which gifts their children want – and another to know which ones they can feel good about giving.

These days, those lists are probably filled with the latest digital media and electronic toys. But don’t be too quick to do all of your shopping at your favorite app store.

“Electronics and tablets are going to be in kids’ lives throughout the year,” says Anitha Leonard, MD, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Arboretum Pediatrics, in Charlotte. “I’d try to avoid giving those things during the holidays.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that too much screen time can take the place of hands-on activities and real-life social interactions. That’s why Dr. Leonard encourages parents to look for gifts that support creativity, family time and physical movement.

Here are Dr. Leonard’s gift-giving recommendations for a holiday everyone can be happy with:

Go “old school.”

If you’re looking for inspiration, look to your own childhood. Puzzles, board games, building blocks – these types of gifts are always in style because they encourage creative play. Plus, they help develop sensory and motor skills for younger children, says Dr. Leonard.

Go for experiences.

Instead of filling your child’s toy bins, fill your lives with time spent together. You can purchase tickets to one-time events like plays or movies – or opt for recurring activities, like museum memberships or cooking or art classes.

“Children will start looking forward to these classes and realize not everything has to be about immediate enjoyment,” says Dr. Leonard, who has a teenage son and daughter of her own. “A little bit of delayed gratification is a good thing.”

Go outdoors.

Getting your kids off the couch not only breaks them away from their screens. It also promotes exercise, which is important for kids of all ages. Aside from sports equipment and outdoor games, look for clothes and other gear from your kids’ favorite teams to inspire them to get out and play.

Time for life lessons

For many kids, the holidays have become synonymous with getting gifts. But it’s also a perfect opportunity to teach them about giving back.

Before the season starts, have your kids select an old toy to donate. “Engaging them with charities early on opens their eyes to what’s outside their own world,” says Dr. Leonard. Other ways to involve your kids include packing bags with personal hygiene items or pet food and visiting shelters or animal rescue programs to hand-deliver the items.

Even those gift lists present a teachable moment. “You can let your kids know that they’re not going to get everything they write down,” says Dr. Leonard. This teaches them to set realistic expectations – and gratitude for what they do receive.

And what about after your kids have opened up their gifts? There will be plenty of time to play with them during the winter break. But the kids can put those presents aside for a moment, says Dr. Leonard, and spend time with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends who were generous enough to create a memorable holiday season.