When a loved one is going through a hard time, it’s natural to want to be there for them. However, many people get stuck on what they can do. This can lead to either doing nothing or being there in a way that misses the mark. One easy way of showing support may be bringing affected families or children a gift. A thoughtful present shows that you are thinking of the family and child and can make a difficult time just a bit more bearable.
Choosing the right gift
Gift-giving can be tricky even if you have a super close relationship with the family experiencing a crisis. An added challenge is that some parents prefer to be asked about their child’s interests while others may not have the headspace for it.
A key to effective gift-giving is taking into account the child’s interests. After a recent hospitalization, a mom shared with us that she loved how all gifts were personalized to her son’s interests. Sometimes that looks like personalizing a Cubs sweatshirt and finding a volunteer to take her to a game. Other times it’s about getting the exact video game he has been craving. When speaking with a child or parent, try to take mental note of their interests to give gifts they’ll actually appreciate.
Take just a few minutes to think about your relationship with the person or family and what they would benefit from could make all the difference in a gift that will hopefully be well-received.
Here are a few general gifts that families appreciate:
- Fuzzy socks
- Warm, cozy blanket
- Age-appropriate games
- Toiletry packages
- Toys like Lego, coloring pages, games, and iPad if parents allow
- Younger kids: light-up toys, music boxes with light, sensory toys
A mom recently shared that toys and books that kept her child distracted from the hospital setting or recovery pain and discomfort were especially helpful. Specifically, toys the kids could play with by themselves were great because it gives the parent a break.
Legos are often a big hit with kids. Kids loved the Lego sets we were gifted as well as they pretend to play toys (cars, paw patrol, stuffed animals). Board games are usually enjoyed and ones they can share and play with siblings who feel jealous when they come home is a double-win.
Beware of sending gifts that are:
- Cheap or junky
- Have small pieces that could get lost easily
- Not aligned with family values (example: technology, characters from shows, etc.)
- Not age-appropriate
Hopefully, these ideas can serve as inspiration for how to be there better for a friend, family member, or loved one facing pediatric illness.