It is the time of year when I see others scurrying about in search of the perfect gift for a special someone. The mall parking lots are car combat zones, the UPS drivers are building biceps at an impressive rate and for many, frustration builds because they can’t quite decide what gift might be most suitable for the picky kid approaching adolescence.
For those parents or relatives struggling to stuff a young stocking, the author, Richard Wiseman combine hundreds of studies down to a few simple gifts that can be given to nurture the life of a young person. The best part is that they are not only appropriate for Christmas but for any day of the year.
The Daily Gift
Give the gift of facial contortions. Researchers split a group of people into two groups and measured the mood of each. One group was asked to furrow their brows while the second group was asked to adopt a grin. Not surprisingly, the group smiling reported better moods than those with the grimace. The significance of this study is in the symmetry – not only do happy people smile but smiling creates happier people. Smile at your kids and other people’s kids. It will cause them to smile back and that will reinforce the feeling for you.
A Monthly Gift
Give the gift of goofing off. According to a self-control study at Oregon State University, playing games with kids causes them to learn to pay attention, follow directions and build self-control. One easy game is that of playing Freeze to music. Kids dance to the music until it stops. Ask them to dance slowly to slow music and quickly to a more brisk beat and then reverse it. This is not only a time of silly fun but is shown to help kids develop the power of self discipline. Maybe a few adults we know should do it also?
An Annual Gift
Psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg divided a group of 6 year olds into four groups. The first group learned to play the keyboard. The second group received voice training lessons and the third group took acting lessons. The fourth was a control group that didn’t receive lessons of any kind. In IQ tests given before and after the study, the students with keyboard and voice lessons improved their scores while the drama students matched the control group with consistent scores. Give the gift of music. There are many studies that reinforce this connection and there is only promise in making the world a more musical place.
Our holidays are abundant and I don’t know how quickly I’ll be back here. Until then, may the Spirit bless you with peace this year.