Why Giving Children Too Many Gifts Is Not a Good Thing

Why Giving Children Too Many Gifts Is Not a Good Thing

Again, The Real Housewives of New Jersey's Jennifer Aydin is talking about how many presents she really gives the kids.

By Marianne Garvey

This all started back when Jackie Goldschneider wrote an article titled: "Do Too Many Gifts Create Spoiled Children?"

In it, she described a get-together at her friend's "enormous estate" with "tremendous" rooms (this sounds like Donald Trump talking). Anyway, she described it as having "a bouncy castle bigger than my home."

"'When kids come here they never want to leave,' my friend proudly announced, which made me wonder: Can kids grow up having everything they want and still turn into humble, appreciative adults? Do too many gifts create spoiled children?" Jackie wrote.

Well, The Real Housewives of New Jersey's Jennifer Aydin thought this all sounded way too familiar. Bouncy castle? Spoiled? Jersey mansion? Why, it's gotta be... me?

Understandably, she was offended. One, her parenting style is under scrutiny by a friend. Two, Jennifer explained at the time why she spoils her kids, tweeting: "I love my kids — as does any mother — I have the ability to give them a life that I always wished I had — this is new to me people! I didn’t come from this so sue me if it happens to be my joy to reward them," she tweeted. "But they are generous, sweet [and] compassionate [and] I’m very proud of them."

On The Daily Dish podcast, Jennifer tackled the topic again, explaining that she has a sort of gift-giving system she uses to, well, get her kids to stop asking.

"This is another thing, another misconception. I say yes to my kids about everything, but I don't follow through with everything. There's a big difference and when you have children, you'll understand," she said. "Because their attention span is like flies; it goes away. They'll watch something on YouTube, they'll bring it to me and they'll say, 'Mommy, can you buy me this?' And I'll say, 'Oh, yes... screenshot it so Mommy has it, OK?' And they're like, 'Yes.' And then they go to the next video and they come to me with the next new toy and the phone is just filled with screenshots of toys that they will never have. So I just 'yes' them for the most part because chances are they're going to find something new that's going to take up their attention within minutes and they're going to forget about the old toy. So I do give gifts but I give like 10 percent of what I say yes to. I say yes to 100 percent; 10, I only actually follow through. And I can afford it so I'm not going to take it to the grave. If I cannot use this money that I have to give my kids joy, then what's the purpose of it? You're not going to enjoy it when you're dead."

Makes sense. But really, it's nobody's business, and Jennifer can gift away all she wants. But we just wanted to check why some parents think too much gift-giving is maybe, possibly, not the best thing?

“Too many gifts can turn little darlings into ungrateful bullies who are never satisfied — no matter how much they get from their parents. So before you go overboard and shower a child with gifts, consider these negative outcomes,” reports Psychology Today.

The report continues, “ [Too many gifts] increases destructive behavior … According to a study from the University of Missouri, as adults, such children are more prone to credit-card debt, gambling, and compulsive shopping. Sure, unwrapping a mountain of gifts produces a burst of happiness — but it has no staying power. Instead, it feeds an insatiable hunger for more.”

It also lowers self-esteem. “Lasting self-esteem is rooted in a strong sense of identity — not materialism. Excess does not equal increased self-worth. Studies have shown there is no correlation between material possessions and self-esteem or happiness. In fact, children who have fewer material possessions but positive relationships with parents and peers score higher on self-esteem assessment tests.”

It may also lead to short-term happiness. “Helping your child develop generosity fosters a healthy sense of interconnectedness and boosts personal happiness. Kids who only value receiving gifts are more likely to grow to be egocentric and lack empathy.”

If you’ve overindulged your kid or kids, here are some tips to help in the future:

Set limits on presents, which “triggers more thoughtfulness and consideration in children.”

“Focus on esteem-building gifts that enhance creativity, talents, or motor skills, such as musical instruments, paints, cameras, etc. Children love to discover new talents. It strengthens their self-esteem and confidence.”

Give presents instead of getting. “Kids whose parents encourage them to give gifts to others experience a stronger sense of community and inter-connectedness.”

(Right, but the bouncy castle sounds like so much fun!)

Anyway, do remember that as kids grow out of old toys, you can always donate them. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for doing just that.

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