In our growing up days, we had very few toys and these toys were usually given on Christmas day and on birthdays. We played in an open area and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We never pestered our parents again and again for toys. But then, those were our childhood days.
Today’s scenario is totally different with every room in the house bursting with toys, gadgets and books. Inspite of cleaning and clearing the old toys, there are toys which still remain scattered all around. Today, children are continuously receiving gifts at birthday parties or from families and friends during Christmas. Moreover when children see some new toys and gifts, they start pestering their parents for them.
Having too many toys or gifts is not harmful, if you are able to teach your child to value the same. A childhood where everything you want comes your way with no waiting period, does not prepare your child for adult life challenges like saving, budgeting, good decision making etc.
Let’s look at some ways in which we can avoid overloading of Christmas gifts for our children
Encourage your child to save and budget for their new toy or gift
If your child does not value the gifts they have received, by not taking appropriate care of them, then it is time to change the rules. Whenever your child demands for a toy to be bought “right now”, always tell them to wait for their birthday or Christmas. You can ask them to save money for buying the toy. You can encourage them to do some household chores to earn and save money for buying the toy.
This will teach your child saving, budgeting, waiting and even making the right decision as to whether they still need the toy. Finally they will value the toy and take good care of it.
Do not compensate your time with your children by buying for them gifts
This is one of the most common mistakes that working parents make. Since they are unable to spend time due to their demanding work schedules, parents feel guilty. They compensate the lack of time by showering extra gifts and toys on their children. Avoid overdoing it as you will fall into the trap of spoiling your children.
Moreover children are great observers and they will try to take advantage of these situations, if they see you doing this very often.
Try giving non toy gifts
You can encourage your children to save the money and take them out for a nice meal, movie, museum trip, painting or a craft workshop etc.
Politely redirect grandparents and others who bring gifts all the time
All grandparents and doting relatives will always like to impress your children with the latest toys. Ensure that you politely inform them about the process of reducing toys in your house. Encourage them to give non toy or educational items which can be helpful to your child in the long run.
Master the art of saying No
Experts in parenting have time and again said that this generation of parents are over indulgent on their children. They rarely say “No” as they do not want to deprive their children of any happiness. But this has resulted in a severe imbalance in the attitude of today’s children.
Children need to understand that they will not always get what they want. Moreover when you say “NO” ensure that you stick to it. Many a time, parents give into the constant pestering from their children and change their decisions. Remember you are sending a wrong message and also making things difficult for yourself in the future.
Manage expectations well in advance before shopping
Before buying any gifts or items, decide in advance what you are going to buy. Do not do impulsive buying and pick up things as and when you like. However there might be some situations in which you would like to pick up an item at a great price, which is totally understandable.
Set the expectation right at the beginning so that your children know their boundaries and will not make any unwanted requests.
Try to go for quality rather than quantity
Try to look for good educational and creative craft toys which can help build the child’s imagination. These toys can be used multiple times in a more creative way. For e.g. puzzles, creative games, clay and craft items etc.
Clear the clutter
It is important to teach children to value and share things. When the time comes for new toys, it is also a time to clear out old and broken toys. At the same time children can share their unused or outgrown toys which are in good condition with underprivileged children. Ensure that the toys that are given are not broken or in a bad condition.
I encourage my children to share some of the good toys which they like with my maid’s children. There are two important rules we follow:
- You should love that toy and should be willing to share what you love and treasure with other underprivileged children.
- The toy should be in good condition.
Once you explain the meaning of sharing and the blessings associated with it, you are also imbibing in them good values which will keep them grounded in their adult life.
Regularly clear the clutter of broken toys and unwanted stuff to make place for new ones.
It would be a good idea to keep a set of toys to be used for daily usage and keep the remaining extra toys bundled up in your storage. After a month or so bring the other set down in circulation and move this current set of toys to storage.
This will increase the novelty value and children will not get tired of playing with the same set of toys.
Encourage children to value their toys
It is important to teach children the value of money and also how to be responsible. Children need to responsible and take care of the toys once they are bought. If the toy is broken then you need to tell them the importance of handling things properly. Don’t rush to buy the next toy and replace it immediately. Teach them to be responsible and accountable for their actions.
These are some of the important things to be put into practise which will help to avoid overloading your children with Christmas gifts.
Please read our earlier article Top values Children learn from Christmas.
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