When your child’s ever growing wishlist takes over the front of the refrigerator or the top of your bedroom nightstand, the holiday season has officially arrived. Holiday wish lists are entertaining, to say the least. Not only do you become privy to toys you’ve never heard of (or had the money to afford), but there’s a good chance your children are pretty imaginative by asking for things that don’t exist. How do you say no to that? However, in reality, you have to say no sometimes. Even if money isn’t an issue, do you really want to give your child everything that he or she wants? The holiday season can be expensive and stressful as is and by trying to stay in the spirit of kindness and giving, some parents go into more debt trying to make their children happy.
Here are some tips to saying “no” this holiday season without sounding like a total Scrooge or becoming the “Worst Parent of the Year.”
Gratitude vs. Materialism
As a parent, it’s natural to want to give your child everything they need (and want) in life, particularly if you had far less than you wanted or needed as a child. Providing a “better than yours” life for your child is not a bad parenting move, but it can get out of hand. Researchers suggest that children are happier and healthier if they are given less. Does that mean that if you cut off all material needs and wants your child will be happy and healthy? No, you can’t deny your child basic needs and you shouldn’t deny them of toys, books, and other wants, but a child that practices gratitude is more likely to be well-balanced than a child that expects everything they request.
Gratitude is more than a “thank you”. Gratitude is understanding that what one has in life is good, that he or she is more fortunate than others, and that he or she is lucky to have a special toy or a best friend and even their own bedroom. Start teaching gratitude early and at a small scale. It will not guarantee against begging for toys around the holidays, but it will help you say “no” a bit easier.
Find a Balance Between Yes and No
Finding a balance between saying yes and no is important because too many positives and negatives can create a confused child. If you are a “yes” parent, you are creating a difficult future for your child, particularly for his or her future in relationships, education, and work. If you are a “no” parent, your child are more likely to have a negative view on the world around them. During the holidays, finding the balance is difficult. Here are some ideas for finding that balance and having a fulfilling and happy holiday season:
- Say YES: To activities that promote exercise like ice skating or sledding. Agree to activities that promote creativity like decorating cookies or making snow people. Agree to gifts that are educational, fun, and look as if they will last a significant amount of time. Ask your child to “rank” his or her gifts by importance.
- Say NO: To some (not all) holiday parties. Instead, host your own party and ask everyone to bring a canned food item, a item of clothing or a small toy, which will later be donated to the local food shelf or homeless shelter. Your child will be get a first hand look at “gratitude”. Say no to all the toys on the list. Make a budget for your child’s gifts and invite your child to help buy a gift for a special friend, a relative, or someone a little less fortunate.