Many parents live for the sight of sheer joy written on their child’s face. I know I do.

For those who celebrate Christmas, opening presents can be one of those times. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of watching disappointment cross over children’s faces as the focus shifts from appreciating what they got, to lamenting what they didn’t get.

Psychological, social and environmental factors are combining to create a Christmas Greed Syndrome, which is characterized by material gluttony and lack of appreciation. Help your child avoid Christmas Greed Syndrome with the following:

1. Eliminate Christmas Binging

Christmas isn’t an end of the year prize and cash give away. Don’t save up every item your family wants for Christmas-time. It can lead to a binge/purge mentality. Spread the joy throughout the year. 

2. Don’t Encourage Christmas Lists

The Telegraph reported that the UK charity Mothers’ Union conducted a study and found that 72% of parents bought gifts from their children’s Christmas lists that they couldn’t afford. Eighty-four percent bought presents at the last minute because they were worried that the pile didn’t look “big enough.”

Instead of having children compile what for many has become an “I want, I want, I want, I need list,” ask children to think of some gifts that would make them happy, but make no promises. Talk about the list as a guide, not a contract.

3. Don’t Tear Though Presents

With all the excitement and adrenaline, opening Christmas presents can become a free for all. Children may tear open one, just to get to the other. Attempt to slow the whole process down by having one family member open one gift at a time and savoring the moment.

4. Involve Your Child In Charity

The gift of empathy is one of the most important things you can give your child. Help them develop an understanding of what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes in a nonjudgmental way.

For preschool age children, talking about the concept of charity in simple terms is a good start. Have your child pick out old toys for charity before new ones come in the house.

5. Play Store

For young kids, one of the best ways to help them learn about the value of money is to play store. Set up shop in your living room and take turns being customer and owner. Use play money with a set amount so they know they can’t afford to buy everything.

6. Explain Why Commercials Exist

Let children know at an early age that commercials exist to make you want to buy stuff—and they’re good at it. Don’t let them tell you what you want!

About the Author

Caroline Presno Ed.D.

Caroline Presno, Ed.D., is the author of 1, 2, 3, 4: Nightmare No More, a freelance writer and mom of a 5-year-old girl.

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