What is the best gift you can give your children? Many experts agree that the best thing that parents and grandparents can give children is their time. Yet, as the holiday season approaches, we find ourselves wanting more time, and we find it more difficult to give the time to children that they need.

How can we give more time to children, and what are the benefits of doing so?

One of the easiest ways to give more time to children is to include them in the activities we do. The benefits of giving more time are many. Three of those benefits are bonding, learning more about our children and giving the children a feeling of worth.

As we include children in activities, they relax and open up in more ways than they normally would. Children most often say and do the things that they know their parents expect of them. This prevents adults from knowing what they are really thinking and feeling. When they relax in activities, they drop their guard and we find out more about them. We are often surprised to find that our children may be thinking and feeling something entirely different from what we had thought. This gives us clues as to their needs in guidance as they grow.

As children assist in activities such as decorating, baking, making gifts, shopping or other holiday happenings, they bond with adults in achieving the common goal of making others happy. While doing so, they can discuss how they think the recipient will respond, and they feel happy about achieving something good with their parents. Little faces light up in anticipation of the happiness they are creating, and a special closeness is achieved as feelings of accomplishment are shared.

When parents take time to include children in activities, the children feel that their parents think their ideas are valuable. They develop a feeling of worth because mom or dad wanted them to help. The opposite is true when they are pushed aside. Children then feel that their ideas and help are not wanted or needed. They look to find their own activities aside from parents. Children have an inner desire to feel that they are valuable to someone. No toy or game purchased for a child can make up for that feeling.

It is not difficult to include children in activities. The key is to find something within the child’s ability. There is always something they can do if it is no more than holding a finger on the ribbon while a bow is being tied. For Thanksgiving dinner, children can help set the table and participate in ways to help in preparation of food. The quality of the dish is not as important as the quality of child we are raising.

There is nothing we can buy or do for our children that is any more important than spending time with them.