To Spoil or Not to Spoil Kids With Holiday Gifts? (We Asked Lots of Parents What They Do)

To Spoil or Not to Spoil Kids With Holiday Gifts? (We Asked Lots of Parents What They Do)

What happens if you buy your children everything they want?

By Marianne Garvey

Tons and tons of presents under the Christmas tree — is spoiling your kids turning them into brats?

Parents have all sorts of opinions when it comes to how many (or none at all) their kids will get during the holidays. But according to Psychologies, that’s on the parents. “Children today don’t even have time to dream of owning things: they believe that gifts are their due — and parents often don’t do enough to dispel this myth. The latest Nintendo DS, video games, dancing robots, talking dolls … there’s no sacrifice we won’t make to provide them with the things they want. But are we doing our children any favors by transforming their bedrooms into toyshops?”

They also bring up an interesting point about why we each feel differently about gift-giving when it comes to children:

“Parents are doing their children a disservice by confusing what they really need with a passing desire. Children will feel inadequate when they see that a cousin or best friend has been more indulged than they have. Buying gifts is often a way of assuaging our own guilt at being absent, either because we’re involved in our careers or too wrapped up in everyday problems. This pattern of behavior is a mistake. Children will interpret it to mean ‘I’m offering you all these gifts so I must be thinking of you’."

Christmas is a time when we all revert to our own childhoods. The more we feel we were deprived of things as children, the more we want to provide for our own kids. On the other hand, those who were overloaded with gifts as children know full well that happiness does not lie in excess. All the same, many of the presents that we buy for our children are expressions of the things that we would have liked to own.”

Personal Space asked some parents what their gift-giving rules are when it comes to their kids and the holidays. Here is what they said:

Laura G., says, “Can’t help but spoil a little, it’s genetic.”

Jannine R. says, “Slightly spoil BUT also make sure he gives to others all year not just around Christmas. This year he is really understanding the spirit of giving. How others are less fortunate and participating in different donations we are doing etc. I think if you can spoil a little at holiday and also raise a child who is grateful and giving of themselves then its all good.”

Nikke S.: “We can't help but to spoil them.”

Laurent S.: “Spoil a little. My son gets 2-3 bigger gifts and a bunch of smaller items.”

Noelle D.: “She gets so much from the rest of the family we really don’t spoil. And we always have her choose a toy or two to buy for someone less fortunate. One special gift from mom and dad and Santa usually gets a couple things she asks for. Like she asked for a bracelet-making kit.”

Jane R. jokes, “Whatever you do is wrong!”

Elizabeth G.: “We have always kept our Christmas simple. It makes it hard only when we go to a friend or relative who has kids and there kids are super spoiled. I have lots of conversations with my kids about child labor and that lots of our plastic toys end up in the land fills. It makes my kids really think about what they really want and helps remind them to cherish and take care of the things they do have. Also my husband and I aren't rich and we are always tight on money.”

Rachel B.: “We are into experiences over things! Trip to Legoland for example.”

Matthew W.: “I try to make a big deal out of Christmas. I try to make them work for what they get throughout the year as much as possible, but Christmas is the one time when I just cut loose and give them what I can. I want it to be a special day they can remember like I did as a kid.”

Marni S.: “We don't really celebrate the present aspect of Hanukkah or Christmas with Kingston. He's still so young it's not like he understands what the holidays are really about so it feels weird to make it just about gifts. Also, he's so spoiled all year round getting new books and toys whenever we find things we think he'll like, he doesn't really need any holidays dedicated just for that.”

Remember, Psychologies points out, “Children will only take presents for granted if we continually smother them with gifts, the majority of which they won’t pay much attention to, or if we allow them to think that presents are their due. Instead, it’s important to give them time to express the things they would like, without these wishes being fulfilled immediately. This is how they learn to dream, to imagine themselves in the future, to mark out the moment that their desires are satisfied and not to have a tantrum when they don’t get what they want.”

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