11 Ways to Stop Overindulging Children This Holiday Season
Most Americans think we go overboard during the holidays. But there’s help.
Posted Dec 19, 2018
A majority of parents think we buy way too many gifts for children each Christmas. It is true for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too! Seventy percent of Americans feel Christmas is too focused on spending, and a recent study found that holiday shopping is as stressful as running a marathon.
If you are a parent who thinks we buy way too many gifts for children, I will share 11 ideas to help you curb overindulgence this holiday season. Use the ones that work for you and your family; save the rest for some later date.
1. REMEMBER “ADVERTISING WORKS”: LIMIT TV
Put limits on how much TV your children watch during the holidays! Remember you are in control of how much TV your kids watch, and how many advertisements they see. Use the parental controls on your smart TVs. Make rules about TV watching and enforce and follow them. Read and follow the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions in “Screen Time and Children — How to Guide Your Child.”
2. DOWNLOAD THE “SIMPLIFY THE HOLIDAYS CALENDAR"
A wonderful resource for families is the Simplify the Holidays Calendar from The Center for a New American Dream. Each week has a theme like “Living Within Your Means” and “More Love, Less Waste.” Within each week’s theme, you will find specific suggestions like “curbing the gimmies” and “staying on a budget.” It is free, just download it.
3. SHARE THREE THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT EACH OTHER
When you decorate the tree, have each family member choose three ornaments. Share three blessings received during the year as the ornaments are hung on the tree. Continue until the tree is decorated by telling favorite memories, biggest accomplishments, or things you like about each family member.
4. MAKE A LIST OF THINGS YOU WANT TO DO TOGETHER AS A FAMILY
Instead of making lists of things you want to get, sit down at Thanksgiving and make a list of things you want to do together as a family during the holiday season. Each family member gets at least three or four things on the family list (e.g., old movie night, Monopoly marathon, cross-country skiing at night). This helps to instill family traditions and it emphasizes what is valued most—time together.
5. MAKE A TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF “ENOUGH”
Talk about "enough" and take opportunities to point out to your children when you’ve had "enough." "This food is so delicious and I've had enough. I'm glad there'll be leftovers for later," or, "I might want everything in my collection, but right now, it's enough to enjoy this one new addition." Let "Is that enough?" be a common question in your household.
6. HAVE CHILDREN RESEARCH LOCAL CHARITIES
Value giving rather than receiving. Have your children research local charities and pick one they are most interested in. Have them decide on a dollar amount they are going to give the charity from their savings. Encourage it by making a pact with them that you will match their donation dollar for dollar.
7. MAKE GIFTS FOR EACH OTHER
Have your children make gifts for each other. Your children can get ideas from books in the library and use materials found at home.
8. MODEL ACTS OF KINDNESS
Make a special effort to model “acts of kindness”—shoveling a neighbor’s walk, inviting a single person to a holiday dinner, offering the mail carrier a cup of hot chocolate, tipping people who don't normally receive tips.
9. HAVE A TOO MUCH STUFF DAY
Create a “too much stuff” day prior to the holidays. On this day family members look through toys and stuff to figure out which things they can give away.
10. CELEBRATE A FAMILY TRADITION DAY
Make sure you have traditions your children will remember and look forward to. For example, if you are Swedish celebrate, St. Lucy's Day. On the day after Thanksgiving instead of binge shopping have each family member make and decorate a gingerbread house and display them proudly.
11. CREATE A CULTURE OF KINDNESS
Teach by example. Children learn what they see. Show kindness. Look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness. Talk about kindness. A quote by Steven Walton says it all, “By role modeling kindness and encouraging them to open their hearts to others and act kind at all times they will develop an unconscious habit that will become second nature to them.”
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© 2018 David J. Bredehoft