"The gimmes" are all around us during the holiday season. It can be
hard for kids - and parents - to look beyond all of the product-driven
hoopla and remember what the holidays are really about.
It's not the gifts but what's behind them that's important - the
spirit of giving. Help your kids learn the fun of giving, and how
rewarding it can be to look for, make, and wrap something special - or do something special - for people they care about and others who are in need.
Here are five ways to curb materialism in your kids and reinforce the real reason for the season:
1. Teach Kids to Question Marketing Messages
From the TV commercials during cartoons to the promos on the backs of
cereal boxes, marketing messages target kids of all ages. And to them,
everything looks ideal, like something they simply have to have. It all
sounds so appealing - often, so much better than it really is.
The ads kids see around the holidays can help foster unrealistic
expectations and lead to disappointment. After imagining their "wish
list" items all around them, it's hard for reality to measure up when
they actually open their gifts.
Of course, it's nearly impossible to eliminate all exposure to
marketing messages. You can certainly turn off the TV or at least limit
your kids' watching time, but they'll still see and hear ads for the
latest gizmos and must-haves.
Explain, when your kids ask for products they see advertised, that
commercials and other ads are designed to make people want things they
don't necessarily need. And these ads are often meant to make us think
that these products will make us happier somehow. Talking to kids about
what things are like in reality can help put things into perspective.
- Ask what they think about the products they see advertised as you're
watching TV, listening to the radio, reading magazines, or shopping
together. Ask thought-provoking questions such as "Do you think that
product really looks, tastes, or works the same way as it seems to in
- To limit exposure to TV commercials, the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) recommends having your kids watch public television
stations, taping programs - without the commercials, and buying or
renting children's videos or DVDs.
Teach kids that not everything they want can always be theirs and
that a little "want" here and there isn't all bad. The key is to want
things in moderation and to fully appreciate what you're given.
Emphasize that the holidays are a special time, when a lot of love and
thought is put into gift giving.