Holiday time can be challenging for parents that don’t want to overindulge their children. Advertisers are out in full force and friends are talking about what they want for Christmas. Wise parents don’t want to send the message that the holidays are just about acquiring material items. Here are some tips to avoid going overboard.
Do not attempt to talk the child out of wanting so much. Instead, listen to them and empathize. Rather than lecturing, understand how the child feels and respond with a validation, like “I can see why you would want all of these things. They look like a lot of fun!” Then, let the child know that they will be getting some of things on their list.
Having children use their own money to purchase gifts for others in the family greatly increases their appreciation for gift exchanging. It gives them ownership, creates an interest in others’ holiday experience and gives them a sense of pride. Giving kids an allowance helps them to be able to purchase things for family or friends. Earning extra money by doing certain chores is another great way to enable them to buy for others.
In families that adopt a child or family in need at holiday time, it is helpful for kids to be involved in the process by contributing some of their own money and helping with the selection of gifts.
Give plenty of attention to other holiday traditions such as caroling, playing special music, games, cooking special foods and spending quality time with friends orfamily. When parents focus on aspects other than the gifts, they illustrate to their children what is most important around the holidays.
Avoid falling into the competitive trap of feeling that kids need to have everything the other kids are getting. Keeping in mind that desire is what often motivates humans, allow children, especially older ones, to work for and buy the things they did not get as gifts. No item will be as appreciated as the one they toil to get. Spend time talking with children about the meaning behind the holidays. Whether or not a family is religious, all faiths have wonderful, virtuous messages. It can be very stressful attempting to get through the holidays while sticking to core values about gift-giving. But the true gift to a child is a parent with convictions strong enough to stand up to the advertising industry, the retailers, the “Joneses” and their own children.
Amy Egan is a CTA certified life and parenting coach and co-founder of Inner Evolution— group life coaching for women. For more information, call 214-356-7646 or visit TexasParenting.net.