Giving Too Much to Our Children?

December 9, 2013

How much is too much when it comes to gift giving? Whether it is a birthday, graduation or the holidays, each year it seems that parents spend more money and buy more gifts for their children.

Which one of us has not searched tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the holiday season to find that special toy/electronic that will 'make' Christmas for our child. And there is nothing wrong with that!

What does cause me concern, and I am guilty of it myself, is the quantity of gifts that we give and consequently the effect on our child's behaviour and the amount of money we spend.

There are some definite indicators that we should be aware of that tell us when we should maybe re-evaluate our giving and curb our spending. Take a look at the list below and reflect on your own situation.

Indicators that you may be over-giving to your children:

  • No attitude of gratitude.
  • Lack of respect for gifts, as shown by disregard of caring for them.
  • Fast loss of interest: 'on to the next'.
  • When your child fails to say 'thank you' with genuine feeling.
  • Lack of mutual exchange: one way traffic in the giving department.
  • Overstimulation. Studies show that babies learn better when they can absorb one thing at a time – too many toys actually prevents them from focusing and learning.
  • Overgifting hurts your finances. Just imagine what you could do by redirecting some of that money.
  • Competition. Trying to give a child the biggest or the most gifts sends a dangerous message that love is measured by the size or generosity of gifts given.

Ways to avoid giving too many gifts for Christmas:

Set limits. Decide on the number of gifts your children should receive. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and everyone is different – the important thing is to decide what’s right for your family.

Make a list and stick to it -and make lists and set guidelines for Grandma too

Draw names -especially good for larger families

Communicate well -It's important to get family and friends on board with your efforts to control gift-giving

Pace gift opening -Let children open gifts at a reasonable pace. Seeing relatives over a series of days can make things easier as your children can open presents in front of the person who bought them

Choose a Gift that lasts -subscriptions, museum memberships or a family vacation are the gifts that keep on giving

The gift of time -One more toy in a sea of toys is easily forgotten. A special outing with Grandpa or a cookie-baking session with Grandma may be remembered forever.

Share the wealth -Ask relatives if sending one gift and wanting to send a second, direct the extra funds to charity. Get your children involved by asking them to donate toys they no longer use to children in need.

Certainly, spacial occasions are made more memorable, exciting and fun when they are replete with gift-giving. But like everything in life, too much of a good thing can dilute the joy. Remember that at these family times the gift of presence not presents is the most important component.