Reducing the Gimmes this Season
by Dr. Maureen O’Brien
Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2019
‘Tis the season for gift giving. For some of us, this conjures up a way to express care and appreciation for loved ones. But too often for families, it feels like we are entering the “Season of Stuff.” We are bombarded (prior to Thanksgiving now) with advertisements for the latest, greatest items to give for the holidays. Let’s push pause for a second.
Remember, one of our primary roles as parents is to teach our children our core values. I doubt many of us would say materialism, greed or one-upmanship are on the list of those values. Yet it is very easy to get caught up in such messaging. One of the things I love is intentional gift giving, which is less about quantity and more about quality. For instance, the rule of three gifts is one way to reduce overabundance in your household: you can give something your child wants, something your child needs and something to read. The idea is to balance children’s natural instincts of “I want” with a sense of gratitude.
Another way to do so is to have your child choose a gift to give to a needy child. Because young children learn by doing, take it one step further and have your child come with you to drop off the gift at a donation site. This will instill the value of generosity AND show them the importance of following through on intentions. A final suggestion is to ask relatives and friends to keep their gift-giving to a minimum. Rather than add to your existing pile of toys, perhaps suggest that they contribute to your child’s educational fund or take your child on a local excursion to a children’s museum or holiday event. By doing so, they (and you) are committing to the message that learning and sharing are more important than anything that can be unwrapped. And please don’t forget to teach your children the value of saying thank you with a drawing, a phone call or a hug! Acknowledging when someone has taken the time to gift them with presents (or with their presence) is perhaps the best holiday practice you can support.