It makes every parent bristle.
After spending hours shopping, planning and wrapping (which ALWAYS takes five times longer than you think it will), your kid has shredded the wrapping paper in seconds and now…they’re sulking. Maybe they didn’t get everything they wanted. Maybe they just want to open more presents. But suddenly you’re staring bleary-eyed into your 6 a.m. cup of coffee on Christmas morning thinking, “Have I created a monster?” The holidays are the time of year when the signs of entitlement really raise their expectant heads. In fact, some people are even going as far as saying you shouldn’t get your kids anything for Christmas.
Um, good luck with that.
Forcing kids to accept our values and views can’t happen out of the blue one day when they’re hoping and dreaming of presents. That’s a little too extreme for most of us. I genuinely enjoy watching my kids’ faces light up with excitement when they open something they’ve been dreaming of. But it is important to teach your kids that it isn’t all about the presents. When gifts become the focus of the holidays, we’re creating expectations and encouraging entitlement. But that doesn’t mean it has to be an anti-present holiday season. You can have your presents and open them too. Here are a few ways you can keep your kids from becoming spoiled and entitled around the holidays.
Get them in on random acts of giving.
Buy a coffee for someone behind you in line. Shovel your neighbour’s driveway. Donate a bag of dog food to a local shelter. Participate in real acts of giving with your children. Let them see you do it and how happy it makes you. Show them the spirit of the season and we promise that you’ll feel it even more too.
Turn them into mini makers.
Instead of just picking presents off the shelf with them in tow, incorporate a homemade element into presents and get your kid involved. By showing children the love and care that goes into handmade gifts, over time they may just think twice about how they react to getting those knitted mittens they didn't ask for. Best of all, this can be as big or as small as you like. Some of our favourites are: Rice Krispies treats, homemade holiday cards, cookie mix in a jar. If you’re stumped for ideas, check out our Pinterest page for more ideas. Oh, and the look of pride on a kid’s face when they give someone a gift they had a hand in making is pretty priceless.
Teach them about letting go of the old.
Instead of just accumulating more stuff, spend a little time going through old clothes and toys with your kids. Once they’ve boxed up what doesn’t fit or what they don’t play with anymore, give them the experience of helping deliver it to the shelter or charity of their choice. This helps show them how lucky they are to have been able to enjoy all the things they already own.
Make them earn it.
A great way to teach your child to, well, not be entitled is to make them earn the things they want. If they have their eyes on a pricey present, you can use the opportunity to teach them how good it feels when you earn something. All you need is a dollar store piggy bank, write the name of the item on it, then include a few dollars to get them started. You can make a list of ways to earn money so instead of just feeling let down, they’ll see the path to get what they want. But don't forget to keep their regular chores out of the running for payment. If they want that little extra, they need to do a little extra.
Buy less, but more meaningful things.
Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel a pressure to make sure there are enough presents under the tree for the kids. So in order to up the numbers, I’ll buy things unnecessary because maybe they’ll like it. But this year, I’m buying less presents and being more thoughtful about what they are in the hope of curbing a habit of buying unnecessary gifts and setting realistic expectations for my kids.
We get how good it feels to give our kids what they want, but most parents are used to watching our kids turn away from most toys after a few days. If we can start tackling the roots of entitlement during the holidays, our kids can start learning to become grateful, resilient and a little more aware of what the holidays are supposed to be about.
And now wouldn't that be the best gift of all?