What do children enjoy more—material gifts or experiences? Recent research conducted by the University of Illinois, Chicago shows that kids will appreciate both material gifts and experiences based on their age in lifespan development.
While younger kids in the early years of lifespan development tend to derive happiness from material gifts, granting them experiences allows them to learn new skills, improve their creativity, and gain intrinsic motivation.
Experiences of every kind are crucial for the healthy social and psychological development of children at all stages. Family times during holidays or special events and undergoing different experiences are important for a child’s well-being. Activities experienced with close family members and friends are associated with better family bonding, a stronger sense of identity and security, lower rates of violence and social deviance, and improved learning in children.
While not ruling out the satisfaction of material gifts can give, here are some key reasons why experiences matter more compared to material gifts.
Experiences Bring Along Happiness
Experiences provide lasting happiness not only to the children but to others. Taking a child to charity events or letting them volunteer in community activities alongside other children and people they look up to can be a great opportunity to connect to the world and share happiness.
Involving the children in the planning process and allowing them to choose events and activities builds curiosity and creativity among adventurous kids. Granting children memberships to amusement parks, zoos, museums, and clubs would allow them to become adventurous and creative, and have them looking forward to attending the next events.
Experiences Help Build Skills
Gifting children experiences that align with their interests and hobbies allows them to learn and build valuable professional skills. These activities can be sports like football, tennis, or swimming where you pay for their membership after school or during the holidays.
Other engaging activities such as horse-riding, painting, and arts can help children improve their creativity whilst providing hours of entertainment. In addition to developing the skills, participating in creative events outside school offers a platform for children to interact with professionals in the specific field, giving them a positive role model to look up to. This can motivate them to perform better in school and advance their skills to higher levels.
Experiences are Emotionally Fulfilling
Even when kids are retrospectively drawn to material gifts, experiences tend to be intrinsically fulfilling.
Experiences are more emotionally evocative as compared to filling closets with toys whose satisfaction may be short-term. Even the most anticipated gifts ultimately settle down in a box of unused toys in the basement sooner or later.
Nevertheless, memories from a trip to an amusement park, or creating a snowman during Christmas create emotional pleasures that get fonder and more valuable over time.
Ideas for Experience Gifts for Kids
When gifting experiences, tailor them to your child’s personality and interests, so that they are perceived as gifts. The trick is paying attention to what your kid will appreciate doing, seeing, or learning. Some of the best experience gifts include:
- Going on an adventure — Celebrate all seasons with a special family activity like ice skating in winter, playing holiday games or gardening in spring, and picnics in summer.
- Sign up for library cards and memberships — While the internet is full of information, going to the library and discovering new books and authors is a great experience for children. With local libraries offering free events like storytelling and author events, a library card will spur their curiosity.
- Explore your local community — Our local communities build our personalities. It is in these communities that lifelong partnerships are built. Taking your child for a stroll to the new restaurant or catching a play at the local theatre will keep your children happy and motivated.
The Joy of Gifting Experiences
We are a sum of our total experiences. With time, experiences become part of our identity, personality, and character. Exposing children to various experiences from an early age allows them to build character as well as build lasting connections with nature and people.
There are numerous ways to gift children experiences without spending thousands of pounds on airline tickets and hotel accommodations. Simple activities including attending cinemas, hiking a local trail, fishing, or playing badminton in the backyard or community field will keep kids satisfied and happy with an overall positive impact on their performance in school.
If your child has found a new interest from an experience that you've gifted them, they may want to learn more about it! Whether they've found a love of a new language while visiting a new country or a love of reading at the library, our one-to-one tutoring can help get them started in learning a new subject.
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