Steer kids away from idea of ‘What am I getting?’

  • By Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune
  • Sunday, December 23, 2012 5:41pm
  • Life

Problem: Your kids become demanding, greedy monsters every December. Is this inevitable?

Solution: Inevitable? Not really.

Understandable? Absolutely, said child development and behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun, author of “You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child.”

“Kids want stuff,” she said. “Everybody wants stuff. I look through the (Neiman Marcus) catalog and think, ‘Oh! Another pair of red flats!’ But parents get angry at their kids and turn wanting into a bad thing instead of turning it into a learning opportunity.”

From the moment they’re born, children are hard-wired to receive. We don’t do much to dissuade that reflex with our yearlong buildup to holidays. (“You can ask Santa to bring you that!” “Let’s save that for your Hanukkah list!” “Tell Grandma what you want for Christmas!”)

“We have to be wary of getting angry at kids for doing just exactly what kids do,” Brown Braun said.

As parents, our job (one of them, anyway) is to teach kids the beauty of giving as well.

“It’s up to us, (when they’re) at an early age, to redefine the holidays so they’re not all about ‘What am I going to get?’” Brown Braun said. “We have to work overtime to put the emphasis on interactive family experiences and rituals — creating memories and cultivating the pleasure that you get out of giving to somebody else.”

Think of the joy on your child’s face when he presents you with glitter and dried pasta glued to construction paper for Mother’s Day. The desire to give and please is there. You may just have to put a little extra emphasis on it.

“One night in December get everyone in the kitchen to make cranberry bread,” Brown Braun said. “Make the wrapping paper together. Have the kids make their own lists of whom to give it to. Maybe it’s the firemen, maybe it’s a parking lot attendant.

“Put on your jammies and run around the city looking at Christmas decorations. Do things that are not only defined by presents.

“I’m not saying it will take the place of getting,” she said. “But it teaches them that fun and joy come out of more than just receiving.”

More in Life

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

Get tricked out in your Halloween best

Thrift stores can dress up you and your ghoul-friends.

Outdoor classes and activities in and around Snohomish County

Cycling: Bill Thorness, ride leader for Cascade Bicycle Club, will speak on… Continue reading

Self-esteem is important, and it’s not the same as net worth

Having it all doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. Self-worth is the most important kind of wealth.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Music in the mountains: ‘It’s a weather-dependant hobby’

Anastasia Allison of the Musical Mountaineers reflects on making music at the summits.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Most Read