’Tis the season to be bombarded by commercialism and a bad case of the “gimmies.” It seems to get worse each year and it starts earlier and earlier. But Christmas doesn’t have to be all about materialism for your family.
In the midst of the latest and greatest gadgets and advertisements telling our children that they have to have it, we can protect them from the materialism of it all.
Dr. Aaron Cooper, a clinical psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University, said parents will never be able to curb “the wants,” but said that when it comes to indulging children, less is more.
“Our research is very strong in demonstrating that the children who receive less materially than other children end up in life with a sense of gratitude more often,” Cooper said. “If the gift that parents want to give their children is the gift of lifelong happiness and contentment, gratitude plays an important role in that.”
Here are six helpful tips to help keep the “gimmies” at bay.
Communication is key
Children are smart. Start early, be honest and discuss the facts. If your child is young, The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies book is a must. If your child is school age, explain how marketing strategies are aimed at children during the holidays.
Focus on the true meaning of Christmas
There are many Christmas lessons and activities you can do with your child to keep their eyes and mind on the true meaning of the season. Create an advent wreath or a countdown unit study with a timeline of the birth of Christ.
Focus on family
Lavish your kids with time, not money. Focus on family traditions passed down or create your own. Enjoy time together doing crafts, baking cookies, playing games or making gifts for others. Even if it takes twice as long, include your children in your holiday activities and projects, including cooking.
Give to others
We don’t buy our children gifts for Christmas but we do allow them to pick out gifts to give to each other. Gifts do not have to be store-bought — this is the perfect time of year to get crafty and make gifts for family and friends. Bake a gift for a neighbor or for your local fire station. Children can also give of themselves, by showing random acts of kindness. Have your children go through gently-used toys and clothes to give to those less fortunate.
Nothing brings a family together like volunteering. The giving of our time, effort and kindness are not only rewarding but a gift we give to others and ourselves.
How to show your child the importance of Christmas charity >>
Lead by example
As parents, it’s our responsibility to discuss gratefulness, generosity, unselfishness and service not just during the holidays but year-round. We are our children’s greatest role models — we should start early to mold our children’s perspectives on the holiday season. May we create such treasured memories of family time and togetherness, and the joy of giving, that our children will not remember what they did or did not get. Happy Holidays!