AMES, Iowa--Kids and teens on the holiday gift list? Consider giving gifts that help young people develop their interests and talents, lead to lasting pleasure and help fill the basic needs for positive youth development. Iowa State University Extension to Families and 4-H Youth Development offer the following gift ideas.
Be a loving, caring adult for youth. Kids and teens love to get something in the mail, whether it’s by a cell phone text message, e-mail or postal delivery. Send or give a holiday card to each child, but also send notes throughout the year when nothing special is happening.
Give the gift of praise. Wrap up a ticket to a special concert or sports event, a certificate for music or art lessons or a gift card to their favorite store, and include a notation about positive behavior such as hard work, caring for others and sharing time and talents.
Offer companionship for activities they enjoy. Give the gift of your full attention by offering to take a young person to a special concert or to music lessons. Spend time together passing on a special skill such as embroidery, knitting, sewing, woodworking or carving, sculpture, painting, model building, baking or cooking. Wrap up the necessary materials and also include a note to offer a gift of time as the teacher.
Be a role model who demonstrates positive values. Perhaps show how to care for animals, help other people or improve the environment. Many kids and teens have dogs, cats, even rabbits and colts or geckos and hamsters as pets. Consider gifts of supplies, equipment and learning resources and take an active role in demonstrating how to use them.
Also show children how to share special skills and talents by modeling the behavior. Perhaps offer gifts of baking, sewing, woodworking or labor to others in the community and invite kids and teens to participate. Giving to others or improving the environment could become a family project.
Give the gift of belonging. Joining together in family traditions can give young people a sense of their roots. Consider gifts based on a special interest that spans the generations such as music, hunting and quilting. Gift ideas could include family trips to concerts, favorite hunting spots or quilt shows as well as supplies and equipment.
For more information about ways to foster positive youth development, visit Home and Family as well as Kids and Teens/4-H at www.extension.iastate.edu. For more resources, go to the Extension Store at www.extension.iastate.edu/store under Home and Family>Family Relations or ask at a county office of ISU Extension. Publications on the following topics can be downloaded from the store: grandparenting, parenting teens, parenting preteens, 4-H, and meeting the needs of youth.
Carol Ouverson, ISU Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9640, email@example.com