By Leslie Lindsay
The other night, my husband and I were reading our customary bedtime stories with our daughters, ages 5 and 7. The story: Santa Bear by Stan and Jan Berenstian. In it, young Brother and Sister Bear are totally completely bedazzeled by all of the holiday hype. They have a list for Santa Bear a mile long and can’t stop talking about all of the great things they are going to get. Until Brother Bear oh-so-mature reminds Sister Bear that if she scales her list back, she may actually get something on her list. Santa Bear doesn’t like greedy cubs, after all.
Sounds familiar? I have been victim of a couple of greedy little cubs, myself. In fact, earlier today I scurried about the bustling ‘burbs of Chicagoland attempting to track down the latest and greatest Santa wish: a drum (?!?) and one of those animal hats with the long paw mittens. I wasn’t going to succumb till I remembered just how magical it felt when I was a kid and walked down the stairs Christmas morning to find “my” gift under the tree. I bought myself a pair of ear plugs while I was at it–and my very own copy of “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.”
So what should you do when your kids are begging for the best and coolest toy? How do you steer them away from the mall kiosks and infomercials for those things that glow-in-the-dark or slippers that light-up? (Total disclaimer: I ordered that glow-in-the dark hut for my 7yo. It was the first gift I acquired back in September!).
Here’s how you might want to tackle the galloping greedy gimmes:
- Talk about what you can expect from Santa. Sure, you don’t have to spoil everything, but let your kids know that Santa is a busy guy–so are his elves–and can only do so much. You may also try what my hubby said, “Santa brings you things he thinks you are ready for. If you still need some practice on something, he probably won’t bring it.” (This also works for those seasonal items like new rollerblades or a bike, especially when it’s snowy/cold outside).
- Ask your kids to be critical about the commercials and things they see on TV. Ask them questions: “Do you think that is a product for kids or adults?” “How would you use that?” “Where would you put it/keep it?” “How many pairs of slippers (or whatever) do you have?” “How is this different from that ___ toy you already have?” Next time you are at the store with your child, take a look at the product (if it is available in stores…even Target has a “as seen on TV” section this time of year). Does that product look as neat in the store as it did on TV?
- If you could ask for one or two things that would really make your Christmas special, what would they be? This often gives you a good sense of what your child really wants.
- Another rule you may want to impose: if you/your child are still thinking/talking about a desired item a week or so later…it’s a sure sign it’s a true wish.
As a parent, you may appreciate this book on raising kids to be less materialistic. by Madeline Levine. (image source: amazon.com 12.11.12)
The title of this post was borrowed from the Berenstain Bears book, “The Gimmes.” See also, “Santa Bear.” Both by Stan & Jan Berenstain.