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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday stress - Part 3 - I WANT!

I was visiting with four and a half year old Chuck and he told me what he wants for Christmas.  He wants an iPad and a chainsaw.  :)  The iPad is a definite NO and unless Fisher Price makes a real working chainsaw, I think he's going to be disappointed.

Our children are bombarded with commercials and advertising telling them what they should want.  Those commercials are very enticing and our children are not immune to their allure.  They are also influenced by the movies and TV shows they watch and things the people around them have.  They are led to believe that they can ask for anything and see it under the tree on Christmas morning.  Yes, they can ASK for anything, but they need to know that they might not GET everything they want.

So, what do you do when you know your child isn't going to get what he says he wants on Christmas?
It depends on the age.  In Chuck's case, he's too young to get the "We can't afford it" or the "There's no way in heck you're getting that!" explanation.  Keep your explanation simple and short.  You can say that real chainsaws can only be used by people who are at least 14 (or whatever age you want) so you're sorry but he's going to have to wait on that one.  As for the iPad, you can remind him that Daddy already has one and he can still use it.  You can go with him to a store and carefully direct him to toys you think are appropriate and talk them up.  You can as him for other suggestions.

For older kids, I think it's ok to be upfront and let them know that you have a budget that you need to stick to.  You can say, "I know you're 16 and you want your own car for Christmas but it's just not going to happen.  We are keeping our gift purchases for you kids to $------ this year."

Be careful about substituting a knock-off product for the real thing.  If your child really wants an American Girl doll (and knows exactly which one she wants), she might not be happy with the imitation doll from Walmart.  Again, be upfront with your kids.  If the budget won't allow certain gifts, help your child come up with something more reasonable.

I don't think it's ever too soon to introduce children to the idea that they can't just make a wish list and expect someone (Santa, Daddy, or whoever) to come up with everything on it.  Start now and try to turn the focus away from what they get to what they can give.   


  1. I don't think there's anything wrong with using the "No way in heck you're getting that" line. Being up front is good, and I would definitely use some comments from the 'up front' world to supplement the 'no way in heck' comment, but there's nothing wrong with telling a child that they can't have something. Giving a short, simple rejection notice goes much further than drawing them out with a 'Gone with the Wind' soliloquy as to why they can't have something.

    1. I agree with you. And I didn't mean to imply that telling your child (whatever age) a simple and direct "NO" isn't an acceptable answer to unrealistic (in our minds) wants. By giving an additional (short!) explanation, you are also turning it into a teaching moment.