Do You Give Your Kids Too Much?

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By GalTime Teen Expert Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, Psy.D.

8 ways to focus on gratitude and giving back with kids

Holiday spirit is everywhere amd you are ready to immerse yourself in the music, decorations, and yes, the shopping. Maybe you have been picking up little things here and there since the summer. Buyer beware however, when it comes to your kids ,it is important to strike the right balance between creating holiday cheer and overdoing the gift giving. You want your children to appreciate the gifts they receive. When you overwhelm them with too many gifts each one may lose some value.

As a parent, nothing gives you more joy than the contentment of your kids. Overdoing it during the holidays however, can impact both you and your children in ways you will regret later. This is especially true in these tough financial times. Less is definitely more.

Your goal is to spread happiness and joy. Too many gifts can cloud the real meaning of the holidays. You don’t want it all to be about what they are getting. When they receive everything they have nothing to look forward to. You also run the risk of creating an expectation that they will always get everything for which they ask. Few things are more difficult and disillusioning than managing the disappointment of a child who focuses on what they did not receive instead of on the amazing gifts they got.

So what can you do to spread the just right of amount of good cheer without spoiling your children? Here are some helpful hints.

1. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Three months from now you do not want to find yourself struggling to pay off holiday purchases.

2. Don’t just buy, ask your kids for a list of what they want. “Dear Santa” letters are a fun way to find out what your children would like to receive. This way you can be sure they will appreciate their gifts.

3. Think about getting one big gift for your kids and a bunch a smaller gifts. This will increase the likelihood that they will truly enjoy the gift they receive. If for example, you buy a gaming system, individually wrap the accessories and game cartridges. Buying too many ‘big box’ items decreases the value of each individual gift. You don’t want to overwhelm them to the point of disinterest.

4. Consider buying bigger gifts the whole family can enjoy. Nothing beats a family air hockey competition!

5. Encourage your kids to give back. Include a gift card or two to your child’s favorite store. Suggest that they use some of the money to buy a gift that can be donated to a local charity. This will offer your kids the opportunity to experience the joy of giving back.

6. Help your kids to create a list of people to whom they want to spread holiday cheer. Your younger kids will certainly enjoy spending time with you creating cards and crafts they can give to these important people in their lives. This will also help emphasize that holiday cheer is created and spread by giving gifts as well as receiving.

7. Don’t make the holidays all about the gifts. Encourage your children to participate in family traditions. Engage them by asking them to help decorate the house, put the star on the tree or set up the candles in the menorah.

8. Invite your kids to create new family traditions. Nothing is more heartwarming than a family project which focuses on giving back. Call the local food bank or soup kitchen to see if /when they need your help. Send donations to those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. This emphasis on giving back during the holidays models important values to your kids.

There is nothing wrong with pleasing your kids with presents over the holidays. When you emphasize giving back however, you teach them what the true spirit of the holiday season is really about. Besides, nothing is more frustrating than a gift that sits forgotten in a corner once the box has been unwrapped.



Be honest: Are you guilty of spoiling your kids at the holidays?

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