From Gimmies to Goodness
● By Hood Magazine
Photo courtesy of Ashley Thompson
By Alyssa Kuecker, Avera McKennan Hospital &
University Health Center
As soon as chillier weather hits, so do advertisements for holiday gifts and gadgets. The season of “gimmies!” in children – and adults – is finally upon us. Betty Barto-Smith and Doniese Wilcox, Certified Family Life Educators at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, share advice on how parents can restore holiday jolliness without the gimmies.
“The gimmies appear in children as young as three years, as they are more abstract in imagining the enjoyment of a new toy. However, whether a child ever grows out of this kind of self-entitlement depends on how it’s handled by the parents,” explained Wilcox.
Flashy commercials, overflowing toy aisles and colorful advertisements in the mail prompt gimmies. Fortunately, tantrums can be avoided while visiting the store. Empathize and acknowledge your child’s enthusiasm over a toy. Say “Wow, wouldn’t that be fun to have? Let’s write it down so we can remember it for a holiday/birthday gift.”
“One of the biggest reasons parents indulge their children is because they feel guilty that busy schedules prevent opportunities to spend quality time with their children,” said Wilcox.
Both Barto-Smith and Wilcox strongly remind parents to not cave under their child’s pressure. Remember, parents run the household! One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is delayed gratification – such as waiting for the holiday. Occasionally, it’s OK to get a small treat from the store to reward good behavior.
Prepare your child before entering a store: “Today, we need to pick up eggs and milk. We are not getting any treats.” Delayed gratification allows for a child’s appreciation during those times when you can afford a treat, both financially and on the right occasion.
Children should also learn to shift the focus from themselves during the holidays. Many times, children become excited to sort through old toys and clothes to donate. Keep a change jar where family members toss loose change in during the season. Let your children make guesses on the amount and help them count it before donating.
Barto-Smith encourages parents, “Focus on giving gifts that are meaningful and timeless. For example, each year wrap a piece of beautiful china or a tool for your child. By the time your child is 18, he or she will have a complete set.” Donate to your child’s college fund each year. Pay for a future summer camp or ballet, guitar, or piano lessons.Sometimes the perfect gift is just spending quality time with family. Coupon books filled with family activities, such as bike rides, going out for a meal or helping mommy or daddy finish a project promote togetherness. Even a gift of a book encourages parent and child reading together. These activities may require a little money, but this gift is far more cherished because you build a relationship with your child.