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

‘Last Jedi’ is the best ‘Star Wars’ movie since the first one

This instant-classic popcorn movie makes clever references to the past while embracing the new.

Jesse Sykes brings her evolving sounds to Cafe Zippy in Everett

She and Phil Wandscher make a return trip to a club that she values for its intimacy.

Red wine usually costs more, but you can still find bargains

Here are five good-quality reds that won’t drain your grocery budget.

Beer of the Week: Skull Splitter and Blood of My Enemies

Aesir Meadery of Everett and Whiskey Ridge Brewing of Arlington collaborated to make two braggots.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Ugly Sweater Party and Canned Food Drive at Whitewall: Marysville’s Whitewall Brewing… Continue reading

Student winners to perform concertos with Mukilteo orchestra

This annual show is a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association.

‘Ferdinand’ a modern take on the beloved children’s story

The lovable bull is back in an enjoyable but spotty animated film from the makers of “Ice Age.”

Dustin Hoffman accused of new incidents of sexual misconduct

A classmate of Hoffman’s daughter says the actor exposed himself in 1980 when she was 16.

Art mimicks reality in engrosing ‘On the Beach at Night Alone’

The Korean film tells the story of an actress recovering from an affair with a married director.

Most Read