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Children and Holiday Giving – a Pediatrician and Mother’s Perspective

Teaching Children About Giving

Holiday time! It’s time to think about gift giving. Most parents want to give their child the perfect gift, anticipating bright eyes on Christmas morning or during the Hanukkah season as the child sees the wrapped gift and opens it with delight. And sometimes that happens.

But sometimes…

The gift is not what the child had dreamed of. Maybe because he is young and changed his mind after you had bought the gift. Maybe because you couldn’t afford the gift she really wanted and you bought something else. Maybe because the gift was in such high demand that you couldn’t find it.

How do you get away from the “gimmies” and start teaching the joys of gift receiving and gift giving?

Teaching Children About Budgets

Most of us have a gift budget. There is nothing wrong with letting children know that some of the things they want are not in your budget. Santa may have a budget too. He may have only a limited number of “special” toys, so he may have to give them to children who are more needy than yours.

Prepare your child ahead of time for the possibility that they may not get exactly what they want. Let him know he will get what someone else (even Santa) thinks he will enjoy. Give your child a small amount of money so that SHE can buy gifts for other people (friends, siblings, parents, or grandparents). A child will quickly learn that thinking about what someone else might like is a hard task. Moreover, she will have to decide whether to buy more expensive gifts for fewer people, or less expensive gifts for more people. And maybe Grandma would really prefer a special hand-drawn picture!

Teaching Children About The Less Fortunate

Finally, help your child think about children whose parents can barely meet their family’s needs and may need some help over the holidays to get some “wants.” Maybe have your child go through his toys and donate a good one—not one that’s old or worn out—to a homeless shelter. Or he could spend some of his allowance money to buy a new toy for a child who is not as fortunate as he.

Keep reminding your child that Christmas, Hanukkah, and many other holidays are about family, remembering your good fortune, and about giving.

Enjoy this holiday season with your family! Make the best gift the gift of YOU—your love, your time, your energy. Take walks! Bake together! Get plenty of sleep!

Happy Holidays!