Gifts that will take your kid to the next level.

photo by JD Hancock / flickr

Kids love to receive gifts. All sorts of gifts. As a parent, you probably have been watching your kid get flooded with material gifts since the early stages of his or her development.

Then you wonder what to do with the amassed number of toys (jigsaw puzzles, cars, LEGO sets, bears, dolls, trains, puppets, cards, books of all sorts, the list goes on and on). You decide to get rid of some of them (you donate them, sell or pass on to a new member of your family), but after a while you notice the same thing — the only difference is that now the old toys were replaced by the new ones.

Fast forward and your kid is a little bit older now. What do you buy? Of course, things like tablets, consoles, laptops, and smart phones come to mind — the technology.

You understand that these are the tools they will need to learn how to use in their lives, as each year we are closer and closer to blending technology with other parts of our lives, especially mobile technology. And since kids are drawn to this new technology because it is intuitive (which gives them the sense of fast achievement), it is fun, and it is how people connect and communicate nowadays (and they want to be connected), gifts of technology are a natural fit at this stage.

During their teenage years, you may wonder what kind of gifts would be appropriate for your adolescent? Sure, there are still plenty of other material things you can give to a teen (they are more expensive than toys in most cases), but you also probably shift a little bit more toward delivering experiences to your kid. And that is a good thing.

Delivering experiences is far more enjoyable for both kids and parents as kids grow older. In many cases it creates and strengthens your bonds (if it’s a shared experience), and it gives the kid what he or she wants the most — you and your time and attention. An experience together can truly be one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

Some parents come up with truly amazing gift ideas that combine the best of both material thing and experience. Recently I listened to a podcast interview with Mary Lou Kayser, the author of the book, One True Limerick: 88 Inspirations Reimagined for Today’s Success Minded Professional, who shared a fantastic story of a gift that she gave her daughter on her seventeenth birthday.

Her daughter Ginna and her best friend had created a book for their chemistry teacher the previous year. Once the book was ready Mary Lou was approached by her daughter who asked if she could help them get this book bound so that they could give it to their teacher. The book is called The Lonely Electron and it explains chemistry’s concept of ionization in a fresh, fun and original way. Mary Lou helped her daughter and her friend get this book bound, but she also did something extra for them. She went the extra mile.

At that time, Mary Lou was very excited about the direction she saw self-publishing was going. As a result of helping a lot of people get their message into the world, Mary Lou knew about where to find the talent she needed to take her daughter’s book to the next level. So she hired an artist who recreated the illustrations from her daughter’s book in digital format so that the book could be published for the Kindle. Then she gave that to her daughter as a special gift. With the help of friends, family and social media marketing Mary Lou managed to get this book to #1 at Amazon in two categories and presented Ginna with the news on her seventeenth birthday, that she was a published author with her best friend.

The sheer joy that Ginna and her friend expressed was beyond words. It turns out that the book was one of the things that helped Ginna stand out on her college applications.

Another idea that I find awesome comes from Ramit Sethi, who, until now, has helped thousands of young people start their profitable freelance businesses, find their dream jobs or launch their online businesses.

When asked by Jay Abraham in a podcast interview what would be his biggest message and a recommended action step to parents that want to help their young adult child create a great future for themselves, he replied:

Your goal is to help them find their direction. Now, you can be the one who does that or you can introduce them to someone else who will.

That’s your role as a parent.

As to the action step, he suggested saying the following to your kid:

You know what? I’m going to give you USD 250 to go spend on any type of education you want. Is it a conference, is it an online information product, is it a book, anything. You want to fly and have coffee with someone in New York, here you go.

And with that simple act, it’s not about the money, it’s about the fact that you can invest in yourself and you can change the course of your life from just one conversation. This can profoundly shift the direction of an entire career and an entire life and be one of the greatest gifts a parent could ever give their child.

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