The Joyful Side Of Gift Wrapping: Finding Self-Reg In Unexpected Places

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

For me, wrapping presents is stressful. I never seem to get enough paper to cover the whole gift. I have high hopes to making those perfect corner folds, but the reality never seems to match my expectations. And how exactly are you supposed to wrap gifts that are not rectangular? I’m sure that there’s a way, and I’ve watched some YouTube videos to help, but I think that I need some 1:1 support from those YouTube videographers. Imagine my surprise then when gift wrapping turned into the perfect Self-Reg option for so many of our students in the last week of school before the holidays.

My teaching partner, Paula, commented last week that “gift wrapping saved us,” and I think that she might be right. Maybe the taping helped. So many of our kids find taping to be a calming option for them — it’s like a different kind of sensory experience — and there’s no limit to the tape on presents. 🙂

I also wonder if present wrapping provided ways for kids to connect with each other. Since Paula and I did not do the wrapping, students soon figured out which peers could support them. Children love feeling as though they’re needed, so they were only too happy to drop what they were doing to help someone else. This gift wrapping provided an unexpected social connection, and with students eager to connect with each other in this context, this also reduced much of the stress around socializing.

Students are not worried about perfection when it comes to wrapping, which is maybe the biggest hang up that I find as an adult. Seeing and feeling the calm that came from the addition of wrapping last week, makes me wonder if we should be supporting present wrapping all year long. What else could kids wrap? Are we missing a great Self-Reg opportunity here? Before working with Paula, I used to either do all of the gift wrapping for kids or support it in such a way that children lost control over the process. Now I wonder why I did that, and if I only managed to increase my stress and theirs around perfection and presents. Holiday time should bring us joy, and I can’t help but think that giving kids control over the tape, the scissors, and the wrapping paper (whatever that might be), could be a great place to start. Just like with adults, wrapping gifts might not be for everyone, but does this just highlight the self component of Self-Reg? Maybe putting out the materials and giving present wrapping as an option is the perfect place to start. What do you think?

Our Co-Reg Community Facilitator, Aviva Dunsiger has been an active Self-Reg blogger for a number of years. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca.
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