11/29/2011 12:30 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2012

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All?

When Juan Elias Uribe was 17 and a member of The Children's Peace Movement, he was quoted saying: "If you harvest a child of peace, you'll have an adult who will not be violent." We just began the holiday season, when greetings of peace abound, but do they hold any real meaning or are they only shallow words signifying nothing? We are about to be swept up in a wave of gift-exchanges, but does it lift our spirits or drown us in unnecessary excess? How did something so well-intended get so corrupted?

Whether Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, this season is deeply rooted in beauty and goodness. For Christians, for example, it is the time to commemorate the birthday of the Prince of Peace. It is in His honor that we extend greetings of peace and give gifts, especially to children. How wonderful it would be if we could give our children the gift of peace! But too many toys promote violence instead. It doesn't have to be that way.

Research assures us that children who play with violent toys are more likely than children who don't to:
  • accept violence as a way to resolve conflicts
  • behave aggressively toward other children and animals
  • negatively stereotype all people who come from a nationality, race, or religion that has been labeled enemy
  • romanticize military life, combat and war.
No one wants this for his or her children, so let's give them gifts that help make the world the peaceful place we all dream of. Let's choose toys that:
  • encourage children to use their imaginations to create and build and solve problems
  • help them discover and develop their talents
  • enable them to learn new skills
  • involve cooperation and team-work.

There are lots from which to choose, and many are inexpensive and don't require batteries or electricity. Most have withstood the test of time. They're safe, simple and fun! Here's a sample:

  • Art supplies
  • Board games
  • Building blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Magic sets
  • Science/nature kits
  • Dolls
  • Puppets
  • Play-Doh
  • Books
  • Music
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Bikes
  • Wagons
  • Sports equipment
  • Lessons in music, art, sports
  • Tickets to a show or movie
  • BEST of ALL ... your time.

Visit,, and for more ideas about gifts that promote the positive values we want for our children and have the extra benefit of being sweatshop-free and non-toxic.