Submitted by Danny Smith
As we all know, we’re in a recession, there are families that have lost their homes from natural disasters, and there are growing concerns about the environmental impact of our products, including toys. Many people are thinking outside the box for gift giving this holiday season. But on the other hand, even toddlers today can work smart phones and laptops and so they’re hard to impress with just wooden blocks or Amish-style dolls. You can’t exactly give a small child a voucher that says a donation was made in their name, they’re liable to be confused and upset because they can’t think in the abstract at that stage of development. So what to do?
Again, you gotta love Etsy, for the fact that you’re giving money straight to the artisans; the clothes, games and toys are the cream of the crop in creative innovation, upcycling, and eco-consciousness. For the three year old on my shopping list, I started with Cyber Monday sales on Etsy, and found her a cool bracelet and screenprinted tee, as well as a theater curtain designed for puppet shows. On top of that I wanted to give her something permanent. Skills she could use to build her resilience. I’m very excited to have found Peaceful Piggy Meditation a whimsically illustrated book that uses guided imagery and simple breathing explanations to teach little kids how to center themselves. If you read the reviews, a lot of parents with special needs children (little ones with behavioral disorders, mood problems) they have found that these meditative tools are a lifesaver for keeping family peace.
Another great find is the Indigo Ocean Dreams: 4 Children’s Stories on audio CD designed to “decrease stress, anger, and anxiety while increasing self-esteem.” You can listen to a sample of one of the soothing stories on this Youtube video “Bubble Riding.” I found it calming, myself.
Another practical treat to bulk up a child’s gift bounty, that parents will appreciate too: Boo Boo Bear with rice pack from the itsthesmallthings shop. You heat it or chill it depending on the ache or bruise that needs tending to. It provides a soft, and comforting buddy to snuggle up with when a child is under-the-weather.
Mixing up fun gifts for kids from local or self-owned shops, in combination with simple emotional-educating tools like meditation and yoga books and DVDS, are a great combination for a well-rounded kid. To be able to soothe yourself and find inner calm and clarity is a skill that will serve a child their whole life. Inner strength and a reserve to draw upon increases compassion, perseverance, and essentially sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy relationships.