Choosing a Gift for Your Niece or Nephew
What do you get for that special pre-teen or adolescent in your life -- someone coming into their own who appreciates your guidance, wisdom, mentorship, and insight (but who might not really "get" your personal style, sorry granny).
Here are four ideas to celebrate that special someone's birthday or to give some holiday cheer. They're not "toy-of-the-moment" gifts, but instead these are timeless tools to boost confidence, teach safety, encourage communication, and increase a sense of capacity:
1) Watches: Some might say that a timepiece is an anachronism, a throwback to the days of yore when knights with their breastplates and maidens in their corsets would use their VCRs, slide rules, and Sony Walkmans.
You almost never see a watch on a Millennial because they use their cell phone or the microwave to tell the time, but I predict a revived interest in automatic watches as opportunities to accessorize, dress it up, and have fun. A watch is a simple but effective way for a younger person to feel important and older.
2) Pocket knives: I believe that every youth should know certain skills such as making a fire, building shelter, cooking a basic meal, and tending after younger siblings. What better way is there to encourage personal safety and responsibility then to offer a sharp, strong, sturdy pocket knife?
If you get a multi-functional version like Swiss Army Knives your young protege can even play with their own pocket screwdriver, nail file, corkscrew, can opener, wood saw, toothpick and even Flash drive embedded inside: it's fun for hours.
3) Stationery: If your young person can write, they can craft a thank you note, birthday message, or condolence letter, too. Get them their own personalized set of note cards - a monogram is a nice effect. With their own envelopes and paper, and perhaps a nice pen added on, they will always be able to send you a note (when you prod them).
Written communication is a learned skill, and when your young person has a chance to practice it regularly, they are able to get beyond one-word responses and into the state of empathy, interest, and conversation.
4) Gold, jewels, and precious metals: The gift of rubies, diamonds, emeralds, or other gems in the form of rings, earrings, or perhaps a birthstone necklace, can be a way to show the young person how special they are and how much you trust in their ability to care for "the precious."
When a child receives something eternal, they realize something beyond themselves. They can aspire beyond the world of plastic breakables into the realm of geologic forces, the earth's crust, and a timescale of millions or billions of years. It's hugely empowering. Make sure to give them a special box or packet in which to hold their small items.
Our young people are a great resource, and the care and attention we give to them now will help them grow into calm, centered, and charismatic young adults.