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Making the Holidays Less Materialisic


The "gimmes" are all around us during the holiday season. You know - "Gimme this," "Gimme that," "I want this," "I want that." It can be hard for children - and parents alike - to look beyond all of the product-driven hoopla to see what the holidays are really about.

It's not the actual gifts but what's behind the presents 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 you can help decrease materialism in your kids and reinforce the real reason for the season.

1. Teach Kids to Question Marketing Messages
From the TV commercials during Saturday morning cartoons to the promos on the backs of cereal boxes, marketing messages inundate 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 advertisements kids see around the holidays can help foster unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment. After seeing their "wish list" items presented perfectly 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 advertisements for the latest gizmos and must-haves at every turn.

But what you can do is:

  • 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, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 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 a little.
  • Talk to your children about what they think about the products they see advertised as you're watching TV, listening to the radio, reading magazines, or shopping together. Ask some thought-provoking questions such as:
    -- "Do you think you need that product? If so, why?"
    -- "Do you think that product really looks, tastes, or works the same way as it seems to in the ad?"
    -- "Do you think that product will make you happy? If so, why?"
  • Limit your child's exposure to TV commercials, the AAP recommends, by:
    -- having your kids watch public television stations
    -- taping programs - without the commercials
    -- buying or renting children's videos or DVDs

Teach your children that not everything they want can always be theirs. Also explain to your kids that a little "want" here and there isn't all bad. The key with wanting things, as with most things, is to do it 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.
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Editors note: Find more articles about the holidays on MomTalk.com

Categories: Family, Newsletter,

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