Looking for a special gift that will not only make your little one smile, but also help them feel happier and more relaxed? You have found the right blog. I have put together a great list of ideas for foster & adoptive families. Some of these ideas may be good for prospective parents to help create a welcoming home, some may be fun to wrap under the tree for your grandchild. I am including links for each idea. This complete list will help anyone find the perfect gift this season.
1. If you have a new child moving in or if your child is anxious at night, consider a glow in the dark bed canopy or a dream tent. The tents come in a variety of scenes like dinosaurs, snowscapes, unicorns, fairy tale forests and outer space. The prices are often reasonable so you could keep a couple on hand for the child to choose from.
Imagine if you are a new foster child climbing into bed in your new home for the first time and you get to sleep under something like this! It is a cute little gift that could really make a difference in the sleep of a child.
2. Have you tried a weighted blanket yet? They can be really helpful in calming down children struggling with autism, anxiety, or a variety of other mood issues. They are a little bit expensive so this would be a really great gift to offer to a family dedicating their home to a special child.
Sensacalm has a great website that not only has a big selection of blankets to purchase, they also will teach you about how they work. Also, blankets come in different weights and this website will help you learn what weight to look for whether you purchase from their site or not.
3. Keeping on our sleep theme... night lights and soothing sounds can often help make bedtime a more cozy, peaceful time. Cloudb's sound and light products (created with the help of an advisory board of pediatricians & parents) provide a soothing and calming effect synonymous with establishing consistent sleep routines for babies, children, and parents. They have a large selection of animals, sound & light options that make super cuddly helpers for your nervous little one. Also, they have partnered with Max’s Love Project to help provide their turtle night lights to children battling cancer. Their products are now available in nearly 100 countries on-line, in specialty boutiques, and at major retailers.
4. For many children struggling with sensory stimulation issues, a swing can be a great tool to help them regulate their emotions. But, not everyone has a swing in the backyard, or maybe you don't live in a part of the world where the child can play outdoors 12 months out of the year. So now we have indoor swings! Click here to see an example of a swing you could install to help your kiddo relax and regulate in your home.
For more information on the benefits of swinging check out this article. For a complete list of sensory products often used by occupational therapists check out Southpaw.
5. On the theme of sensory products... trampolines can be really beneficial for children that need a movement break to help regulate their feelings and behaviours. We have a small one in our home and our 8 yr old will often recognize when she needs to go and jump for a bit to help her calm herself down when she is overstimulated or frustrated.
If you child is under 80lbs you can get a smaller trampoline, but if they are bigger you may want to invest in one a little stronger. The examples I suggested in the links above are for small spaces. but if you have a larger indoor play area this 60-inch enclosed one can also be a fun option for children 100lbs or less. Otherwise you may want to invest in an outdoor trampline.
For more information check out:
NYMag's full list of 2018 Best Trampolines
This YouTube video of an Occupational Therapist discussing the benefits of trampolines.
This article on how jumping can benefit victims of childhood trauma written by specialists at the Therapeutic Care Program at the Australian Childhood Foundation. A great read for any foster or adoptive parent.
6. For toys, Legos are a classic for a reason. They are not just fun, but they really help our children learn and grow, focus and relax. For a full list of the benefits check out this article. Although the kits are really popular, I think for some children they can become too stressful as you are trying to create the perfect image to match the box, and then when you are done, you stop playing! For kids that need to learn to play, I like the classic creative building boxes where they have to use their imagination to create their own toy or world. To shop for your family check out lego.com or almost any store, anywhere!
7. Does your tween or teen need a place to put their ideas & feelings but basic journals seem boring & lame? Check out the books by Keri Smith: Wreck This Journal, This Is Not A Book, Mess, & The Pocket Scavenger.
"Your whole life, you’ve been taught to avoid making a mess: try to keep everything under control, color inside the lines, make it perfect, and at all costs, avoid contact with things that stain. This book asks you to do the opposite of what you have been taught. Think of it as your own personal rumpus room. A place to let loose, to trash, to spew, to do the things you are not allowed to do in the 'real world'.”
8. Another fun calming gift for tweens & teens (or even adults) is a mindfulness colouring book. These are quite popular now finding their way out of the therapy office and into bookstores and box stores all over the world. They have animals, shapes, characters, sports, if your child has an interest, they probably have a colouring book for it!
Have you tried it? Check out this article for more information on how colouring works to relax the mind and decrease symptoms of anxiety.
One tip I would suggest for your gift is to look for images that have a curve to them (like a traditional mandala). This curve motion in your colouring tends to increase its effectiveness.
9. Do you have any family ornament traditions? I love the idea and we have some on our tree. Every year I buy the Hallmark family ornament and include a picture of who was there to celebrate with us each year. Sometimes an ornament is a great way for foster families to remember all the children that lived in their home that year by engraving their names onto a keepsake.
Etsy has a lot of creative artists able to create ornaments for you. Intentionally Me is one of my favourites (she created the necklace I wear every day engraved with the names of all the children that have lived in our home). Maybe you have a creative friend or local artist who can work with you to create the perfect shape and saying for your tree this year.
10. Need a stocking stuffer idea? How about some fidgets toys?
"Children are seeking things to touch and feel, to provide the ‘just right’ amount of sensory input, to calm their nervous system. Fidget toys are often used to provide sensory input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extra sensory information (e.g. listening to a lesson in the classroom, paying attention to a book during circle time). By having a fidget toy, a child may be able to better ‘filter out’ excess sensory information in their surroundings and their own body, which is causing distraction, and encouraging this sensory information to be focused on a toy in the hands." Occupational Therapist Michelle Mennillo
Looking for just the right one for your child? Check out this list of the Best Fidget Toys in 2018.
I hope this list was helpful. As always, if you are looking for more ideas or want to ask some questions about the gifts mentioned above you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org