Parenting Tips: Avoiding Holiday Greed

Xmas tree with gifts

If your child’s latest wish list is longer than a double roll of Charmin, you know the problem.  How do help our children develop realistic holiday expectations and an attitude of gratitude.  Let’s face it, kids are bombarded everywhere with messages that what they have is not what they need- daily catalogs in the mail, kids’ meals, cartoons work to sell to kids as much as commercials a little of their greed is not really their fault. So, here are a few ideas to help everyone have more fun, regardless of the number of gifts provided.

Teach the kids that

  1. Everyone doesn’t get the same number of toys or presents.  With siblings there sometimes is an urge to make sure that everyone is treated equally, and that’s not a bad thing.  But it is a good time to re-define “equal”.  Begin  teaching the kids that everyone is allowed their own interests and ideas of what’s fun.  Chances are you could, if absolutely necessary, get most of a 4-5 year old’s presents at the dollar store.  Not so with your tween or teen.  Playdough is a lot less expensive than Legos, or electronics.  So teach the kids that numbers aren’t everything, that as long as the things they wished for then that’s enough.  There’s always “you get what you get and that is it”.
  2. If the wish lists keep growing it’s time to explain all the things we do for each other that are not bought.  Do some activities that make us feel good because they make people we love feel good.  Bakes some cookies to give away, make holiday cards, or cell phone videos of songs or plays the kids do.
  3. Sometimes kids don’t like what they get and they will say so.  Before the big day teach kids that whenever someone does something special, nice or gives a gift we say “Thank You”.  Even if the present wasn’t on our list, we say thank you not to lie to them, but to let them know that we are grateful they thought of us, love and care for us.  Unwanted gifts can find new homes, but if we hurt others feelings, new friends and family are not easily replaced.  We don’t hurt the people we love!
  4. Back to the long list- shopping can become one long “I want that” whine.  There are ways to avoid that.  Shop on-line, leave the kids at home with a babysitter or other family member. If that’s not possible, plan ahead.  Set ground rules with a list what you are buying/looking for.  Use the time in the stores to let the kids choose their gifts for friends and family.  Let the kids know the shopping trip isn’t to buy gifts for ourselves and then stick to it.
  5. Encourage the people in your life who are in town to give the gift of time instead of wrapped presents around the tree: trips to the zoo, a movie, or for lunch; doing a craft with them, playing board games on another day…..

The goal is to teach them that there are many, many types of gifts and ways to show each other we love them    Model the behavior and encourage family members to do so as well.


Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area.  Check us out at , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!

Call  877-938-1442 for general info

Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831


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