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Stop Kids’ Holiday Greed Before it Starts

With the culture constantly focused on shopping and gift-giving this time of year, it’s no surprise that kids of all ages can be struck with a strong case of Holiday Greed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With some planning and clear communication, you can shift the focus of the season from greed to gratitude. Here are some ideas for managing gift greed this holiday season:       

It’s a Request, Not a Guarantee — Whether your kids are old enough to write their wish lists themselves or you have to help them compose a letter to Santa, you can start reining in the greed when you work on their gift list. Let kids know that just because they want a certain item, doesn’t mean they will get it. One popular way to keep the list manageable is to shorten it by asking for only four things:

  • Something I Want
  • Something I Need
  • Something to Wear
  • Something to Read

Explain and Avoid Advertising — Advertising for toys and gadgets is nearly inescapable during the holidays, but you can limit your kids’ exposure to it. Have them watch commercial-free shows on PBS, or stream commercial-free content from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. For older kids who spend a lot of time watching YouTube ‘influencers,’ explain how their favorite personality is likely being compensated to talk about a particular item and may not really love it as much as they claim.

Stop the Gift Grab — If your Christmas morning goes by in a blur of flying tissue paper and crumpled boxes, slow it down. Have everyone open one gift at a time so the whole family can see and appreciate what the others are receiving. It makes every gift more special and shifts the experience from a crazy free-for-all to spending quality time together. Yes, it will take longer, but it will be well worth it—and you’ll get better social media pics, too.

Focus on Giving — Show kids how it feels good to give by helping out those in need during the holidays. Most communities have programs that allow you to ‘adopt a family’ for the holidays or choose a name off a tree to be a child’s Christmas Angel. Explain to your kids that not everyone is as fortunate as they are, and some families need help to celebrate the holidays. Your kids will love helping to choose essentials and gifts and learn the value and joy of helping others.

Get Friends and Family on Board — Let well-meaning grandparents, aunts & uncles, and family friends know that you are trying to manage your children’s holiday expectations. They are often the ones who shower kids in gifts that might not be in the family budget, which can contribute to increasingly unrealistic expectations with each passing year.