Picture Christmas morning: do idyllic scenes of shiny-eyed Norman Rockwellian children happily enjoying their presents leap to mind? Unfortunately, reality is slightly different in most U.S. homes. Green-eyed, greedy ingrates tear open gifts, then scream when they didn’t get what they want. If that’s your home on Christmas morning, mom and dad, then blame this nightmare on yourself, says the Daily Mail. Experts say over-indulgent parents have created an “I want it now” generation. Here are parenting tips to curb holiday gimmes, teach an attitude of gratitude and save money!
Teach kids that gifts are treats, not entitlements. Gifts aren’t rewards for good behavior, either. In a way, the Grinch had it right and Santa Claus has it wrong. naughty-or-nice logic is flawed. When Christmas is only about mindless self-indulgence, spoiled children will be naughty and demanding. And if like Santy says, it’s about being naughty or nice, why do good kids in poor countries go without while selfish brats in wealthy countries get everything? If children don’t appreciate gifts, they will not receive them, period.
Budget always, especially around the holiday. Don’t spend more than $100-$150 per child. Less is okay, too. If you shop early, stop buying when you hit the budgeted amount. If you buy too many gifts, ironically, children appreciate them less–it’s a direct, inverse correlation. So put few gifts under the tree and in stockings to make Christmas presents more meaningful. This develops an attitude of gratitude and appreciation.
Never allow kids to bully, blackmail, guilt or harass you into buying for them. Never let them bully you into doing anything, unless you want demanding little tyrants for children. Christmas presents should not be weapons of emotional destruction. You will not teach your children anything positive by caving to demands. But you will teach them to respect you if you stand your ground and use your common sense.
Don’t give single expensive gifts. You’ll feel guilty putting just one gift under the tree and will probably end up buying more gifts to compensate, Don’t give expensive gifts. Even (especially) pricey digital toys. Do you want to start an ongoing parent-child war? Buy a kid an expensive smartphone. For maximum misery, buy one with a monthly fee the child swears she’ll pay. Children lose cellphones all the time because they don’t understand the value. Expensive digital products also make children targets for theft or violence. Be careful of giving a TV, gaming system, or computer for Christmas. It sends the wrong message about what value of gifts children should expect to get. If you give a $600 Christmas gift this year, what will you do for an encore next holiday?
Avoid giving mountains of gifts. Kids should not receive double-digit gifts. It’s a one-to-one ratio–more gifts mean more tantrums. The lower the height of Mt. Present the less whining, complaining and letdown and the greater the attitude of gratitude.
Go cheap on stocking stuffers–like a dollar each. Have you ever looked at stores’ $15-$20 suggested stocking stuffers lists? Stores love you to “buy” their stocking stuffer mentality but those are gifts not stocking stuffers. So if you put more expensive items in stockings, put less under the tree. Or stuff with gift accessories.Or skip stockings altogether. Whoever thought it would be good to give a kid a hole which his parents were expected to fill? There’s an attitude waiting to happen.
Under no circumstances, buy more than you can afford. Be honest with children. Tell kids times are hard, you’re unemployed, whatever the situation. Don’t lie or pretend. Get kids on a toy drive list. Find cheap or free ways to celebrate. Your kid won’t suffer without gifts, but he will if you spend money you need for necessities. You teach sound fiscal sense not spending what you don’t have. Homemade is good. Make stuff with the children and for them. Encourage them to make gifts for others. Regift and repair used toys. You can actually do a complete secondhand Christmas holiday in lean years or just because you can.
Give to charity. Kids who have too much or enough need to learn to share with kids who don’t. Let kids pick out toys, wrap and donate. Discuss the people, countries and lifestyles where the gifts will be sent. As they learn about children in need, they become less greedy and selfish. They develop empathy and that builds an attitude of gratitude. Children are remarkably compassionate and generous if given the opportunity.
Don’t try to balance number of gifts and amount spent between kids. Don’t teach kids to count and compare. It will never come out even because kids don’t get the logistics of present giving. Don’t teach them to expect constant fairness. Show them you love them so much that you don’t measure it in gifts.
Brook no fussing at the holiday. At the first complaint or pout, put toys away. If it’s really bad, make the child return toys to the store and give you the money. Zero tolerance shows him you love him enough to make him behave. Children aren’t born greedy or selfish. Those traits are bred into them. But they can also be bred to generosity and an attitude of gratitude.