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How can I encourage moderation with gifts during the holidays?

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Dear Mama Drama:

My daughter is three and is starting to understand that the holiday season means presents. I have seen my older nieces and nephews become obnoxious and greedy at family gatherings, throwing tantrums when they don’t get exactly what they want.

I’d like to prevent my daughter from being so obsessed. What ideas do you have?

~Moderate Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Moderate:

Kids are bombarded with advertisements for toys, gadgets, and other “must have” items from television, movies, catalogs, and more. Friends and family often contribute to the gimmees as well. As parents we have the challenge of filtering the messages that our children receive. While we can’t weed out everything, we can limit their exposure and teach the values we want them to learn.

Get ahead of the game by talking about moderation on a regular basis with your daughter. An easy definition of moderation for children is not too much, not too little, just enough. Model this often in your own life by thinking out loud about your choices to moderate when shopping, eating, playing, etc.

Teach and model giving during the holidays and all year round. Involve your daughter in choosing gifts for a family in need, picking out items for a food bank or drive, delivering used household items to non-profit agencies, or volunteering for a community clean up activity.

Promote gratitude. Support your daughter in appreciating the opportunities and material items she has and receives.

Notice when children or adults demonstrate gratitude and moderation. Point these situations out to your daughter or describe them to her if she isn’t present. Let her know you value these characteristics.

Reduce exposure. If your mailbox is like ours, it is filled with toy catalogs throughout the fall. Rather than take them into the house for your daughter to peruse, take them directly to the recycling bin so she isn’t tempted.

Limit television time, especially commercial television. When she does watch, watch with her to skip commercials or talk about them, helping her discern what is valuable and necessary and what is not.

When giving gifts, discuss your choices as a family. Be creative and give gifts of time or activities in addition to material items.

Use self-control when buying gifts for your daughter. There are so many fun things to buy for our children that it is easy to get carried away and undo all our efforts at moderation. Be thoughtful and deliberate in your shopping.

Encourage family members to demonstrate moderation in giving gifts to your daughter as well. Offer ideas for gifts of time from them, too. Those special memories will last much longer than the piles of toys.

It is easy to go to extremes of extravagance or austerity in gift giving. Find the balance in between that fits for you and your family.

How do you encourage gratitude and moderation in your family?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

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