Expert Parent Advice

3 Ways NOT to Spoil Your Kids This Holiday

The holidays should be a wondrous time of fun, family, and faith – but for some families, the holiday turns into a big case of the “I wants.”  If you’re concerned that your kids are “all about the stuff” this holiday season, you’re not alone.

I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.

Today, we’re talking about 3 ways NOT to spoil your kids this holiday season and ensure that you’re not left with a big dose of entitlement into the New Year.

1.  Control what you CAN control!  Let’s face it, companies spend a lot of money in advertising to woo your kids and make them believe they can’t live without the latest and greatest toy, game or electronics.  It’s understandable why kids beg and plead as you make your way down the toy aisle. 

Unfortunately, you can’t control how advertisers market to kids – but you can control how much exposure your kids have to those advertisements.  Limiting how much time they spend in front of the TV from now through the holidays will limit (not eliminate) the exposure they have to all of the latest and greatest ads intended to entice our kids.

In fact, to limit exposure to commercials, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends having your kids watch public television stations, recording programs without the commercials and buying or renting children's videos or DVDs.  And that is certainly great advice.

2.  Manage the gift expectations.  Talk to your kids about their wish lists, and have them force rank the gifts they love the most.  Then, set a limit.  If you celebrate Hanukkah, one gift on each of the 8 nights makes it easy.  If you celebrate Christmas, set a limit either in the number of gifts for younger kids or a dollar amount for older kids. 

Also, try to make an agreement with extended family to purchase only one gift per child.  (That can be tricky, but if the whole family is on board, Grandma may be more likely to go along this year.)

3.  Focus on the real meaning of the holiday.  Gifts are one part of the holiday experience, but teach your kids WHY you celebrate that holiday.  What does it mean to your faith?  Help them discover why gifts are part of the holiday celebration and what they represent. Then, shift the focus to giving.

Spend the majority of your holiday preparations on the joy of giving to others.  Encourage your kids to create gifts for family and friends, or encourage them to give non-material gifts like coupons for breakfast in bed, a weekend of yard work, a back massage – what ever would be meaningful to the recipient.  Of course, you can adopt a family through your place of worship or school and get everyone involved in making the holiday more special for that family.

Kids are bombarded with messages about things they “can’t live without.”  It’s our job to limit their exposure to those messages and then shift the focus from GETTING to GIVING over the holiday season.

If you’re looking for ideas for how your family can give back to others this holiday season, be sure to check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

And for ongoing solutions to your parenting challenges, visit us often at for the Expert Parenting Advice Series.  I’m Amy McCready for Kids ‘R’ Kids, and we wish you a joyous and safe holiday season.