Cure for ‘gimme’ kids

They’re known as the “gimmes”, those grating demands from your children to “gimme” that toy or game they just have to have.

Children who constantly want you to buy them gifts can be frustrating at the best of times, but when they step things up a notch in the weeks leading up to Christmas it can drive you mad and turn what should be a time of joy into a struggle. So how do you stop the gimmes?

Talk to your children about greed

Sit them down and have a serious chat about wanting things all the time.

Do this in a quiet place where they can concentrate – not a shop full of tempting goodies when they’re in the midst of a major meltdown.

Firmly explain you don’t have an endless supply of money to spend on things they want (and neither does Santa), and that greed is not a nice trait.

Remind them of that toy they just had to have a few months back that’s now languishing at the bottom of their toy box.

Limit their exposure to advertising

This is easier said than done, but if you can cut down on the amount of advertising your kids are exposed to in the weeks leading up to Christmas it may help keep their demands down.

Nonstop TV advertising and countless brochures in the letter box help to fuel their desire for objects they feel they just can’t live without.

Throw brochures out, or else hide them, and record your kids’ favourite TV shows so that when they watch them later, you can fast-forward through the ads.

Get into the habit of saying no – one mum I know admits she buys her child something every time they go to the shops, even if it’s just a plastic toy from a $2 shop or a lollipop.

She accepts she has made a rod for her own back, because her five-year-old now expects goodies every time they go out, as well as an extra cache of treats at Christmas.

If you get into the habit of saying no when your kids are young, you’ll be doing yourself and them a giant favour.

Tell yourself you’re not depriving them of anything, you’re helping to stop them becoming a spoiled brat.

If you give in to all of their demands, all the time, they’ll naturally expect to always get what they want – and not just with toys.

Be aware of peer pressure

Not getting sucked in by peer pressure applies to parents as much as children.

Don’t be tempted to give in to their demands because their friends have all the latest toys and you don’t want them to feel second best. Now’s the time to teach them having more material possessions doesn’t make one person better than another.

Try not to set a bad example by saying how much you wish you had a giant TV like the neighbours’, or a new car like the one your friends have. If you’re always hankering after shiny new things, chances are the kids will be too.

Encourage saving

If they really, really, really want something, encourage them to save for it.

This will also help them to appreciate the value of items, which is an important lesson to learn.

Explain things in term they can understand – for example, if they want to buy a particular toy, that will be four weeks’ worth of taking the dog for a walk or unloading the dishwasher.

Change your famiy’s attitude toward the holiday season

If Christmas has been all about gifts in your family, try to put more emphasis on other aspects, such as spending time with loved ones.

Rather than talking all the time about giving presents, come up with ideas of things you can do with and for people.

You could also give your time and effort to good causes and start a new Christmas tradition of volunteering at a charity or doing good deeds for needy friends.

Set limits and stick to them

Make it clear to your kids that they’ll get a certain number of gifts for Christmas and that’s it. Some families limit the number of presents their kids receive to three as well as a stocking full of small treats.

If that seems too mean to you, raise the number, but don’t get too carried away.

Restricting the number of gifts can be a hard thing to introduce if in previous years you’ve blown the budget and splurged on lots of goodies.

So you may need to cut back gradually.

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