Confession: before the Christmas madness set in, I wrote a post in which I argued that $224 is not nearly enough money to spend on a child during the holidays. My non-scientific hypothesis came from the realization that many of the toys I really wanted my daughter to have -- Magna Tiles, anyone? -- are stupidly expensive. Lots of readers chewed me out on my opinion, but I thought -- oh, what's the harm? It's my child's first real Christmas (she's 2) and I want to give her everything her heart desires.
I am publicly prepared to eat my words. Christmas morning was gorgeous and memorable, but also proved to me that if my child turns into a spoiled brat, my husband and I will be solely to blame. But we also have the power to stop this bad behavior before it sets in.
I'd always been told children are naturally greedy little creatures. False statement. Sure, they may be pre-programmed to think of their needs before all else, but I could see on Christmas morning just how much influence we were having on her desire to acquire more, more, more. After opening just one present and setting her eyes on a little plastic wand that couldn't have cost more than $10, she was totally content to leave all of the other gifts wrapped and focus on that one.
More from The Stir: Babies Don't Need Spoiling on Their Very First Christmas
But, instead of leaving her alone, what did we do? We pushed her to open the others. She became fatigued after awhile and we could tell she cared very little about many of her gifts because she couldn't help but feel sensory overload. Various objects beeped, lights were going off in one corner of the room, and a universe of Little People had exploded on the living room rug. There was just too much. She couldn't focus. She ended the morning with a wild tantrum.
A situation like this one could occur any day of the year -- holiday or not. We want to give our children everything, but is it worth it if he or she has too much to appreciate any one thing? Or if our children are banging up their toys and treating them like old rags they can trash?
Here are some quick tips on how to prevent our children from becoming spoiled brats, despite our desires to give them the world:
1. If your children are really young, consider storing many of the gifts you give around holiday time so that you can slowly introduce them throughout the year. Doing so will ensure they are appreciative of each gift they receive.
2. If your children are a little older, tip number 1 probably won't work well since they aren't likely to forget what they opened on the holidays. Evaluate what you have before you wrap everything and consider storing some of the gifts for later on in the year.
3. Use the following words often: "No, and that's the end of the story." If your child insists on having something that you know he doesn't need, it's up to you to be his parent and not his friend.
4. Teach your child how to take care of her toys and make it a priority to ensure she cleans up after herself each day. As annoying as it may be, you are teaching her to respect and value what she has instead of taking it for granted.
5. Show your child how much fun it is to give, as well as receive. Include them when you purchase a gift or card for grandma and make a big deal out of their contribution.
What do you do to ensure your children aren't spoiled -- especially around holiday or birthday time?
Image via C Slack/Flickr