For some kids it starts this time of year, other parents are fortunate enough to hear it year round. You know what I’m talking about. The “I want this!” and “Buy me that!” Advertisers have found that targeting children is profitable and a great avenue into parents’ pocketbooks. As the days draw closer to Christmas kids can be more and more insistent on what they want, and parents get more and more exasperated trying to determine what presents will be best all around. And the short-term memory of most children makes it even more difficult, especially when kids want that new toy now, not 17 days from now.
Here’s some ideas from us to help you navigate the next two weeks. Have your own ideas of things that work with your family? Share them with us!
Keep a List. A Tangible List. “Put it on your list” is a phrase oft heard around here during the holidays while kids are tearing through the store and parents are doing their best to either stealthily shop for presents or just grab some necessities. Instead of just telling the kids to put it on their list so they stop bugging you about it, carry around a small notebook so the two of you can actually write it down. If you have more than one kid, keep a different page or page(s) for each. You can review the list later, perhaps letting the kids cross off items they’re no longer interested in. In this day and age of smartphones, I’ve even heard of some parents who snap pictures of the items the kids like while in the store. It’s quick, it’s memorable, and a way to connect with your child, letting them know that you actually care about their wants even though you’re not going to buy for them right now.
Budget With Your Kids. Budget seems like a big word for a little kid, but explaining that even Santa has a budget can help kids narrow down what it is that they really want and perhaps focusing on that will help reduce the gimmies when something new comes on TV or when they’re shopping with you. If your child is old enough, count money with them, let them see what $25, $50, even $100 looks like so they can begin to understand what price tags mean. Of course this might mean you start to hear, “Hey mom! Can I have this? It’s only $20!”
Consider Word Choice. If “Mommy, I WANT this!” sets your nerves on edge, consider making some alternate word suggestions to your kids. This doesn’t have to be done in a punitive way, don’t berate them for saying “want,” but when you respond to them, use alternate words that can give them ideas of what to say in the future. Example: “Wow! You really like that Robo-Saurus. The pictures on the box are very fun!” and maybe next time you will hear “Hey mom, I really like this Magno-Zoomer!”
Discuss, Don’t Dismiss. Responding with “Um hmm,” “OK” or “Not now honey,” is a surefire way to have your child’s gimmies over an item accelerate! Instead, take a few seconds to stop what you are doing and really engage with them over the item they are showing interest in. This might not change their feelings ab out the item, they still really want it, but instead of dismissing, make sure you let them know you are hearing them. Reiterate what they are saying. Let them know you understand they want the item and you think it’s just as cool as they do (even if you really don’t think it’s cool). Remind them that Christmas is just around the corner and this could be in one of the packages they receive that day!
Some of the ideas on our Making the Most of the Holiday Season post may help you and your kids find more joy in the holidays beyond just getting new stuff.