Countdown to the crunch
Having important days to look forward to and spend together is one of the joys of having children. The eager anticipation your son or daughter feels in the countdown to a special day is a reflection of the great times they remember, and that is down to your past hard work and planning.
Pestering for a special present has its own particular emotional twist
But too often the question on your mind becomes "how many shopping days left?" as your child pesters you with "I want, I want, I want". Pester power at the supermarket for sweets is bad enough, but pestering for a special present has its own particular emotional twist.
Few of us doubt that our society has become hugely more commercial. Previous generations were probably happy with a second-hand bike or homemade dolls-house as presents. Some children may still be satisfied with these, but they are probably living somewhere very remote without a TV in the house!
The reality for most parents is that kids will use all of their considerable power to pester for expensive toys they see advertised or hear about from friends. Many children tick off 'must-haves' in every catalogue they find. Losing the catalogues can help, as your kids will rarely remember the hundreds of ticked selections.
Being absolutely firm about a date when listing can start (for example, no wish-lists until two weeks before the birthday) also helps to cut it down.
Fighting the power
It can feel hard to say no to your child's demands, particularly if you think their friends have the latest items. Think about the following:
- Advertising is designed to sell the maximum number of products whether or not they're suitable, worth the money, or of benefit to your child.
- This year's fashionable toy is soon last year's reject. If you're taking last year's presents to the charity shop to make room for the latest must-haves, you'll get the picture.
- What every child wants most is a loving, happy time with family. This is what we all cherish when we look back at our childhoods. Any toy we remember is because of the fun we had playing with it rather than how much it cost.
- Give your kids extra time and attention - this can really cut down demands for things
- Acknowledge the strength of their desires - "Yes, that does look brilliant" - while preparing them for possible disappointment - "But you do know you probably won't be able to have everything you want".
- Explain to older children how advertisements try to influence what we want and buy.
- Talk to older children about the cost of items and whether you can afford them. Explain that money doesn't grow on trees, or just pop out of the wall.
- Think about treats and presents your child could have that cost nothing. How about making your own vouchers to exchange for a story or playing a game together?
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