I’m pretty sure that parents don’t go into parenthood planning to spoil their kids and planning to raise entitled little tyrants. It’s just one of those things that happens before you realize it’s happening. As parents we want to give our children the best we can … the moon and the stars. And if the moon or the stars is in the form of the perfect sparkly dress or doll or dump truck from the local toy store, then why not?
Well, with an almost-three-year-old daughter whose favorite phrase these days begins with “I want/I need” I’m learning exactly why not. As much as it wasn’t my intent, my sweet, little girl has become a teensy bit spoiled.
Raising a spoiled child is the last thing I want, but I’ve been realizing that if we don’t start doing something different and get on the right track now, that’s exactly where we will be headed. With a second baby in our family now, I’d really like to get this figured out before he starts in with the “I want/I need” too.
So, this holiday season we are changing things up and un-spoiling our kids. Here are a few things we’re doing to help us with the process.
1. Saying no to “stuff”
I’m not anti-gift giving, but I am anti-more stuff my kids don’t need. If my daughter already has 30 dolls she really doesn’t need another one. Maybe a new book would be a more appropriate gift or a game we can play as a family. Those daily tchotchkes that I put in the advent calendar last year or all those tiny trinkets that fill stockings? None of it is stuff my kids need or things that they will even remember, so we’ll be skipping those. We’re trying to make our gifts more thoughtful, more meaningful, and more about quality over quantity.
2. Giving the gift of experiences
In that same vein we’ve asked our families to join us in giving the gift of experiences instead of more toys. Tickets to a play at the local children’s theater or a membership to the zoo are things that our kids will remember beyond Christmas Day. Plus, these gifts create opportunities to spend quality time together with family and that is a far greater gift. If my kids are going to be spoiled I definitely want the spoiling to come in the form of quality time with people they love.
3. Giving back to others
We really want to teach our children the importance of giving back to others, so we’ll be purchasing gifts and necessities for families in need and we’ll be including our kids in shopping for these items as well as having conversations about giving back. We would also like to sponsor a child through a children’s charity so our kids can put a face to these needs on a more regular basis than just during the Christmas season.
4. Creating fun traditions
I want our kids to know that Christmas isn’t just about gifts and it can be plenty magical without them. Creating fun new traditions like getting dressed up to go see the Nutcracker or going to the annual tree lighting ceremony or making salt dough ornaments … all of these are things that don’t involve gifts, but that will stick with our children far longer. I want us to make memories together and soak up the real spirit of the season.More On