The Holidays mean lots of things to lots of people, but to kids, the holidays mean MORE STUFF!!! And if you have a “spirited” kid, holiday gifts can be a challenge! Below is a list of spirited-kid-friendly items that you can buy yourself or send to relatives who love to spend money on your kids. These gifts are great for spirited kids because they:
–Facilitate activity, which burns excess energy. And let’s face it, in today’s world, most kids need more activity and more active- vs. passive engagement with the world around them!
–Require kids to create, participate, cooperate, and grow
–Are REAL. Sure, kids like to pretend, kids play, kids like toys and games… but kids also place a lot of value on “real,” quality equipment; real tools; and meaningful activity. This may be especially true for spirited kids.
–May possess something that is especially attractive to spirited kids – an element of danger! Of course, you can always train kids to be safe and get them to comply with safety rules. Don’t believe it? Ask me how!
10 Great Holiday Gifts For Spirited Kids:
Now here’s some good, old-fashioned fun! Pogo sticks are challenging to learn. Then, once they’re mastered, they are impressive! They take a lot of energy to operate – but your child isn’t short on energy! Pogo sticks provide a great way for kids to learn to focus that incredible energy and develop their balance and sense of space.
Like the pogo stick, a unicycle is challenging to master. That’s a plus when you have a child who desires mastery and control! Get one for yourself, too, and you can learn together! Did you know there are unicycle camps where kids can learn this art? Or take them to a circus camp, where they can also learn other amazing skills like juggling and acrobatics! Don’t forget your safety gear :)
Even preschoolers enjoy skateboarding. And here’s something I learned: The older kids at skateboard parks are usually pretty cool people, and they’re excited to help a “little” kid learn. I’ve seen a few socially awkward 6- and 7-year-olds become more comfortable and confident just hanging out with the teenagers at the skate park. (You’ll stay with them, of course!) Plus, skateboarding is another great way to develop physical skills while using up tons of energy.
There are many varieties of balance boards to choose from. These are fun to use, they help kids burn excess energy, and they’re great for helping kids develop core strength, balance and coordination.
HOW TO USE: Just have it in the living room for your kid to use as they want. They can also stand or sit on it while they are doing homework, watching movies, or having a family meeting. Balance boards can actually help kids pay attention!
- Small Trampoline
Trampolines are also fun to use, they also burn energy, and they help improve posture, core strength and overall sensory integration.
HOW NOT TO USE: Definitely remove the handrail. If kids hold on to the handrail as intended, they will not gain the full benefits of the workout. Or, if I know your kids, they’ll use the rail to facilitate outrageous tricks and stunts! (One kid I know used the rail to turn herself upside down in mid-air. Not a good stunt on a mini-trampoline!)
Use the trampoline just for fun, or make it part of a coming-home-from-school ritual, or use it when they are starting to feel cranky or irritable. Jumping will help them center and refocus. Here’s a link to a small trampoline.
If every spirited child had a woodworking bench and tools, they would be SO HAPPY!!! And the world would be a more peaceful place.
HOW TO USE: Children as young as three (yes, THREE) can learn to use tools safely. (Ask me how!) Once you’ve taught your kids safety and they are compliant with the safety rules, just give them scraps of wood and some nails and let them go. DO NOT under any circumstances give them PLANS or DESIGNS made by someone else! The real benefits come when they have to figure out how to create things. You can ask them to make you a stepstool, but don’t help them do it, and don’t tell them how to do it. And don’t hold your breath. It’ll take forever, it’ll be wrong the first few times, but when it’s done and usable, watch the glow!
And don’t forget the super cool tool belt!
- Their own Cookware!
Get your kids real cookware and have them cook real food! Almost every kid will enjoy cooking and food prep. It’s fun, it can be challenging, and the results can be very satisfying. Kids also enjoy working with food because this is a meaningful, grown-up activity.
HOW TO USE: Put your child in charge of part of a meal (if they are under 6), or, put them in charge of a whole meal (for kids aged 6 and up). The family can agree on the meal, so you can be sure it’s nutritious. Also, have them help you cook – chopping vegetables, smashing garlic, chopping nuts, grinding spices, rolling dough, etc.! Helping you is especially fun when they have their own tools to use!
- Their very own Hand-Held Vacuum!
You’d be surprised at how many kids enjoy vacuuming! For one thing, a vacuum is a machine. It also makes a cool noise (to spirited kids, at least), and it provides immediate feedback. Of course, if your kid hates vacuuming, then don’t get him a vacuum. But vacuuming is fun for a lot of kids, and doing meaningful work while having fun helps develop a positive mindset toward the work we all must do to keep our environment ordered and clean.
The vacuum here is a wet AND dry vac, so kids can clean up spilled milk, too! (BTW, it’s OK to cry over spilled milk before you clean it up!)
- Cooperative Board Games
As you may have noticed, spirited kids are very goal-oriented. If they think that the object of the game is to win, then that is what they MUST do. And when they lose, they pitch a major fit, or say super-rude things, or throw the game-board on the ground. And in these moments it’s completely pointless to talk to them about sportsmanship, at-least-we-had-fun, you can’t win ‘em all… You told them the goal was to WIN!
Put that goal-orientation to better use with a cooperative game. Then your driven, focused child will help OTHER people win, too! These games are challenging and well-made. These are just two – search for more!
- Garden Tools!
Get your kids some garden tools and give them a bit of the yard to OWN. It can be just 4 square feet – they can still grow flowers, vegetables, or just dig for worms and make mud pies. Be sure that what you buy is STURDY and not just a toy.
Some vendors make quality tools for younger kids, and depending on your child’s age, you can get him adult-sized tools. The tools shown here are good for younger kids.
Some of your relatives and friends may want to give something extravagant like an Xbox, a computer, or an electric car. If you don’t want your child to have those things, suggest a climber for the yard, an above-ground pool, a large outdoor trampoline, a membership to a science museum, a craft subscription box, or perhaps an indoor tent!
And as always, experiences make some of the best gifts! This year, give your child the gift of your undivided attention, focusing on something they value that you don’t usually get into.
Finally: Make some space for this year’s gifts, and create a stronger sense of order and harmony in the process. Right now – before the gift avalanche begins – is a great time to PURGE the toys, clothes and books that are already crowding each other out. In my experience, many if not most families can easily purge at least 50% of their toys and books without any pain at all. Your child may or may not want to participate in the purge. Most children under 6 won’t be good at purging, so you have to do it when they are away. And once you do it they usually just say, “Thanks for cleaning up my room!” Older kids can be given a goal – to donate 30% of their stuff so other kids can enjoy it, or to give a certain percentage to younger cousins or friends. Of course, this is only fair if YOU are also purging your stuff! Here’s where you can use a little competition – who can purge more? (Let the kid win!)
Whatever the holidays mean to you, I wish you a very happy, warm, cooperative season!