What are you buying your child?

It’s so easy to see children as a well of the constant need for stimulation and entertainment. They need cool toys, engaging activities, exciting classes, and a beautiful bedroom perfectly organized with a bunch of cute little baskets from Home Goods. They were on clearance. We spend so much time acquiring stuff and drumming up new ideas for what they might need or what we might need to meet their needs.

But think about how much time they have to acquire stuff in their lifetime. What don’t they have a lot of time for? A childhood. If you’re constantly buying something or thinking about buying something for your child, well that makes a lot of sense on account of Americans being exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads every. Single. Day. Childhood is a commodity to a lot of people.

But get this: what children need are internal gifts, quality time that helps them get to know themselves. Giving attention to children is like giving water to plants. Your guidance and approval, light to photosynthesize. That’s why they love to be with you all the time because they know that you are teaching them how to live well.

Sooo what does a product-free interaction do?

  • Spending uninterrupted time talking → teaches them new words

  • Expressing or describing your feelings out loud → helps them understand the function of emotions

  • Describing how an experience affected you → teaches them that they have an internal life to control and change

  • Recovering from a bad feeling like being late because you were stuck in traffic or making a mistake or dropping something on the floor → shows them resilience

  • Watching you cook a meal, clean up the house, figure something out on the computer → teaches them sustainable independence

  • Inviting friends over and cooking a meal and talking to them → teaches how to be in a community

All of these interactions provide things they need to be happy. Spoiler alert: it’s you. You are what they need, actually. They follow your lead; they prioritize what you prioritize. It’s a power. Use it well.

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