The look on your child's face when they open the ultimate present they've been asking for all season long can be a truly fun experience. But without a counterbalance of gratitude and a giving spirit, our children can quickly become spoiled. What should be a wholesome and loving family holiday can devolve into vapid consumerism and the emotional and financial struggle to meet increasing expectations every year. Let's flip that on its head and keep the wonderful and meaningful spirit of Christmas alive. Here are tips on how to keep your child grounded and unspoiled over the holidays.
1) Give before you receive
The spirit of Christmas isn't in receiving but giving, especially to those less fortunate. To help keep your child grounded, start a tradition of serving others, like buying gifts for Toys for Tots or adopting a family through a church or non-profit. By learning that not all children have even the basics like food and shoes, they will learn to be humble and thankful for what they have. When children are grateful, they don't constantly demand more. This can become a fun tradition they look forward to every year instead of a trendy, expensive toy.
2) Your presence instead of presents
Undivided attention from a parent can mean the world to a child. Strengthen your emotional bond with your child by making time to spend one-on-one with them, not just during the holidays but throughout the year. They'll have less attention-seeking behavior issues and realize that happiness comes from spending time with those you love, not through having things.
3) When something comes in, something must leave
Teach your child that if they want new things, they must make room for them by giving away what they no longer use/want. This type of learning experience can create a habit that will last a lifetime and prevent your child from overbuying and amassing clutter in the future. This can also be tied in with #1 and they can choose every year what they want to donate to the local shelters or churches.
4) Quality over quantity
It's the quality of a gift's thoughtfulness, not the price tag or amount of them, that matters. To bring this point home, consider setting a limit on the number of gifts and encouraging homemade ones. One fun motto you can follow can be that your child can ask for four items: one they need, one they want, one they wear, and one they read. This will help them consider what they truly want or need instead of an excess of toys they might play with once and toss aside.
5) Disappointment is okay
Don't let the idea of your child's disappointment or dissatisfaction (or the threat of a tantrum) make you go against your better judgment. It's okay not to buy that expensive toy your child has been demanding or insist your child eat what you cooked instead of caving and making something else just for them. If we always acquiesce to our children and make life problem-free all the time, they'll never learn the lessons that hardship can teach us. You want your child to be resilient and resourceful, right? They learn that by living through disappointments and not always getting what they want. They learn that the rules do apply to them. This is key in helping your child be grounded and able to navigate successfully through life.
If you follow these tips, perhaps the first holiday season will be a little bumpy in the transition, and that's okay. Change doesn't happen overnight. Keep at it and soon you'll have a much happier and less spoiled child. The holidays will be more about family time than spending money, as it should be.