Spoiler Alert: How to avoid Spoiled Kid Syndrome


Our experts share their thoughts and tips on how to avoid the “spoiled kid syndrome” when it just seems like the presents and goodies keep on coming.

By Brittany Dyer


Picture this: You wake up bright and early Christmas morning or perhaps a on someone special’s birthday to the sound of your child full of excitement screaming, “Mommy! Daddy! Get up! It’s Christmas!” You all sit  together around the tree or a birthday cake/present table that is spilling over with gifts. Overwhelmed by excitement and goodies, your child begins to open his presents-one after another, after another. Not stopping to see what he got or who it was from, but shredding paper after paper until there is no more to open. Then you hear, “Is that all?” Sigh. It may be an all too familiar sound in your house.

Or maybe this is not exactly how things go in your humble abode, but regardless I think we all want to raise more grateful kids and have a holiday we can all remember and enjoy.

So how can we avoid the spoiling syndrome our children seem to have inherited these days? Here are a few ideas for you to encourage a more thankful attitude all year long.

  • Set a limit on the amount of gifts you will give. It could be the amount you spend or even the number of gifts you give. Honestly, kids get bored when opening so many gifts and do not have the time to be grateful for what they are opening because they are so excited to open the next gift, they don’t even realize what they just opened. And let’s be real, children do not really care how much you spend on a gift as long as it is meaningful to them. Truthfully, they will appreciate the gifts you give them more, if you give them less because they will have time to focus on what they have received instead of what they will open next.
  • Give gifts of need. Not everything wrapped has to be from your little angel’s wish list. You can give them clothing or backpacks or other things they need. A fun way to do this might be to label your gifts “wants” and “needs” to let them choose how they want to open them.
  • Give experiential gifts. Not all gifts have to be wrapped. Some of the most amazing gifts growing up were traveling around with my family or going on outings with them. These gifts provide lasting memories and not just a moment of high until the next big toy comes out.
  • Have a no purchases holiday. Be creative and come up with crafts to make for Christmas or simply take buying gifts off the table for any holiday. Use your creativity on how to make this possible for your family. I know it seems taboo in our culture today, but it is okay to say “No” to our children. After all, we are the adults.
  • Set the example. Show gratitude for the gifts you receive. Say thank you or write thank you’s for the gifts you receive from others to set the example. If you open your gifts and spend time looking at them and being grateful for each of them, your children will likely follow suit. Use the gifts you have received. The best way to show you are grateful for things is to use them or display them. Your children will notice and will follow your example.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering allows your children to see how they can give without acquiring gifts. It may even open their eyes to see that not everyone is as fortunate as they are to be given gifts like they do.
  • Spend time as a family. Whether it be shopping as a family, family dinners, movie nights, singing Christmas carols, sitting around the living room chatting or whatever tradition you decide, make sure that you spend family time together.

May each of you find joy and less stress this holiday season!

photo by Mike Fleming CC BY 2.0

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