Teaching your child to garden this Christmas... Priceless!
Christmas is a stressful time on so many levels. The financial pressure to deliver is huge for many families as young and not so young children are bombarded with constant messages of consumerism and instant gratification.
We all know that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is 'time', but how would you wrap such a gift and who wants to be the one to face an expectant five year old on Christmas morning with this gift, when they were expecting a Barbie car?
Young children model their behaviour on the significant adults in their lives, so parents and grandparents have a tremendous opportunity this Christmas, says one local expert.
"Giving the gift of time such as a 'date' to engage with a young person in a healthy outdoor activity like gardening is one of the best presents that a child can receive. This works on a number of levels: teaching them that to get a result they have to plan and put in effort; it also teaches them self sufficiency, patience and a respect for the environment." says Margaret McConnell, clinical psychologist based here in Christchurch. She specialises in children, young people and their families. McConnell advocates putting together a 'gardening kid's fun pack' which could include strawberry plants, cherry tomatoes or other seasonal plants - these are easy to grow, a treat to eat and reinforce healthy food choices.
Place these inside a brightly coloured box or even into a kid's watering can together with a garden voucher that they can spend on the big day out to the garden centre. Don't forget to include a committed date for your 'outing' to the garden centre.
"It's a bit like taking your medicine with a spoonful of honey," says McConnell, who is putting together her own 'gardening fun pack' for her two year old granddaughter. While you're at the garden centre you can also subscribe your child to 'Kids Go Gardening' magazine www.gogardening.co.nz they will love receiving this in the mail every few months with all the goodies that fall out of it each issue.
While a gardening date represents a cheap gift in monetary terms, the investment in a child's emotional well being is priceless, and will last long after the latest fad toy has been broken or forgotten. Remember its up to us to ‘Grow’ the next generation of gardeners for the garden city.