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Will the Grinch Steal Christmas?: No Reason for Seasonal Greed

Dec 5, 2023

Holidays are approaching, running faster than Santa’s team of reindeer. While many of us enjoy and teach holiday traditions to our kids, presents often play an inevitable role. Your child’s experience with gift giving will differ depending on how traditions are communicated. Luckily, you can use your awesome parenting skills to keep the Grinch out of your Christmas, kick greed out the door, and help your kids stay on Santa’s “nice” list.

Quality, Not Quantity

We’re not going to tell you not to buy gifts. After all, gifts are fun and entertaining. Who doesn’t want a good gift? Our point is that having a mountain of presents under the tree doesn’t need to be a necessity. Chances are these gifts won’t even be used after the first month of use.

The fix? Limit the number of gifts given. If your kiddo is used to writing lists, it may be time to revise the strategy. Lists imply length. Instead, try a “ticket system.” Have your child write the 1 – 3 things they want the most on index cards/postcards. Setting limits will save you money and improve the quality of the gift. Focusing on quality will even give a gift a fighting chance to be used all year round.

Teach Gratitude, Not Greed

Get your holiday humble on. Teaching gratitude throughout the year is most helpful, but the holidays leave a perfect excuse to practice regardless. When teaching gratitude, you can talk to your child ahead of time about thankfulness and giving. Upon receiving a gift, remind your child to make sure they know who it is from and give thanks. As their parent, you can encourage gratitude by keeping them excited about giving to others. Say sentences like, “I can’t wait to see your Dad’s face when we give him this toolbox.” Modeling gratitude behaviors will counter greed and guide your child in doing the same.

Open Presents One at a Time… and Slowly

Mindfulness approaches can stabilize excitement and keep the channels open for gratitude. Try having one family member open one gift at a time instead of clawing at the gifts all at once like a pack of mean Christmas elves. Watching others be joyful will encourage your child to be just as excited about giving as receiving.

Christmas Disappointment

Disappointment with presents will happen. Maybe you don’t hear the right “clue.” Maybe it’s just not in the budget this year. Maybe you were supposed to develop special mindreading abilities. Whatever the reason, understand your child’s emotion, and do your best to help them manage the feeling. You don’t need to feel guilty or try to make it up to them later on. It is okay for a child to feel disappointed, and they tend to rebound quickly.

Prevention is a healthy recipe too. Don’t get hopes up if you don’t intend to get the present. Saying things like “If you’re good, Santa will get it for you” with the gift not appearing under the tree is destined to result in negative feelings. The best defense is to communicate with your child about why the gift won’t appear on Christmas. Talk to your child about gift disappointment too. Help them problem solve through a fake scenario. Ask, “what can you do instead if you don’t get the gift you want?” Santa, especially, will be happy you did.

If your child is struggling through the holidays, our Occupational Therapists can help!