Christmas means many different things to different people but for the majority of us it spurs us into a frenzy of present buying. Our children wake up on Christmas morning and rip open gift after gift after gift. We all love our children and want to give them everything that they want and need. I love the smile on my child’s face and the excitement in his eyes when he gets a new toy. However, after reading some shocking articles on overindulging children I will be resisting the temptation this year to buy every toy on the Christmas list. So why should we fight the urge to overindulge our children? The article that sticks in my mind was based on the findings of a psychologist named David Braedehoft (Bredehoft, D. J., Mennicke, S. A., Potter, A. M., & Clarke, J. I. 1998. Perceptions attributed by adults to parental overindulgence during childhood.). Braedehoft concluded that overindulgence as a child can cause problems in later life. In his study adults that were over indulged as children reported that they were disappointed in others, lacked coping skills, were in debt and were often unhappy. This makes sense! If you are given everything you want how can you cope in the big wide world when things don’t just fall in your lap when you click your fingers?
Aside from wanting to bring up a happy human being who is able to cope with life here are three other reasons to curb the crazy present buying.
1.) We want our children to learn that happiness does not stem from things but from making connections with people and from nature.
2.) We want to teach our children the value of things and to appreciate the things that they have. If children have too many things they are not able to truly appreciate them.
3.) We want to show children the difference between wants and needs. They need to learn that we don’t have to have the latest gadgets to survive.
So what can we do to change things? Promoting giving at this time of year can highlight how lucky we are and can teach children that there are people out there less fortunate than ourselves. Giving also makes us happy, seeing other people’s faces or preparing a gift and imagining how a present may make someone feel gives you a buzz. With regards to present buying, activities are always a great gift idea as they promote time together and don’t require you to build a house extension to accommodate any new toys. I also try and stick to the following guidelines and buy just four presents. Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.
So let’s turn Christmas around and show our children what it is really about, using this time of year as an opportunity to teach kindness. This could just be the best Christmas that your family has ever had!