7 Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids for the Holidays

Avoid overindulging your children on the holidays this year.
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It can be tempting for many parents to go a bit overboard when it comes to holiday gift giving. But spoiling your child isn’t a good idea--even on the holidays.

Scaling back on the holidays won’t just reduce your stress, but it can be good for your child in the long-term as well. Here are some strategies that can help you avoid overindulging your child this holiday season:

1. Keep the Focus on Giving, Not Receiving

Rather than asking your child repeatedly what he wants for Christmas, ask him what he wants to give other people for gifts. Encourage him to make lists about the things he wants to buy or make for others, instead of creating an endless wish list of his own. Whether it’s a homemade gift - like a picture he colored - or a small gift he purchased with his own money - like a box of candy - make it clear that the holidays are about giving.

2. Practice Gratitude

Teach your child how to be grateful for the things he has - even when he opens a sweater he doesn’t like. But don’t reserve gratitude for the holidays. Role model it year round by expressing appreciation for the people and things you have in your life.

Make sure your child writes thank-you notes for the gifts he receives. Talk about how kind it was for each person to buy him a special gift. And teach him how to show good manners when he opens gifts from other people.

3. Share Homemade Gifts

Make at least a portion of the gifts you give homemade. Rather than spend a lot of money at the mall, show your child that it’s the thought that counts.

Get your child involved in making gifts with you. Bake cookies to give your neighbors or find a holiday craft that your child can help you make to give to relatives.

4. Emphasize Presence Over Presents

Include gifts that allow you spend time together as a family. A trip to a zoo or a family getaway for a night could make a great gift for everyone. Make it clear that you’re more concerned with spending time together as a family, rather than owning lots of material possessions.

Make the holiday season about spending time together too. Put more effort into family traditions than you do shopping and wrapping gifts. Show your child that you value the time you spend together over anything that money can buy.

5. Limit the Number of Gifts You Buy

Make each gift count. Rather than buying as many gifts as you can, consider giving one special gift and a few smaller gifts. Show your child that a few thoughtful gifts can be more special than dozens of presents.

6. Focus on the True Meaning of Holidays

Spend time talking about the true meaning of each holiday. If you have spiritual beliefs about the holidays, find ways to honor those beliefs. Spend time talking about and learning about the reasons you celebrate and the reasons why you honor specific traditions.

If you don’t have any particular spiritual beliefs, consider learning about other people’s beliefs. Talk to your child about why some people celebrate Hanukkah but others celebrate Christmas. You can also spend time learning about how other people around the world celebrate holidays.

7. Do Kind Things for Others During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a great time to remind your child that not everyone is fortunate enough to receive gifts. Consider doing a service project together as a family. Donate clothing to a homeless shelter, buy gifts for children in need, or sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home.

Talk about how fortunate you are to have one another and how important it is for you to help people who may be struggling in life. It can serve as an important life lesson to your child.

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