4 Ways to Celebrate the Season Without Breeding Entitlement

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Your 8-year-old son is filling out his Christmas wish list at the table. The gleam of his eyes is so sweet as he writes down his holiday wishes.

You are not a newbie to parenting. You’ve already been through this before, just last year, in fact, and you know that his list keeps getting longer.

More expensive

He doesn’t require all the stuff on it. He wants it. There is a big difference between what he needs and what he wants.

You want the holidays to be as special as possible. Is there anything more rewarding than watching his face light up when he receives his gifts?

You’re worried about giving him too much. You know that there is a thin line between spoiling someone and giving them a gift. Sometimes, this line can be razor-thin.

Everywhere you look, entitlement seems to be abound.

This particular situation is not a walk in the Park, but it’s very common. It’s so common that I even wrote a book on it! And I would be happy to give you some tips about how to celebrate the holidays without worrying about your child developing entitlement.

You can do it. It might sound not easy, but you will succeed. With these four tips, you can have the holiday you’ve always wanted and a child who is both capable and grateful.

1. Give Back

We tend to get caught up in the holiday rush and chaos. We used to take our children to pageants and parades in years when there was no pandemic. We decorate trees in our living rooms and drive around to see Christmas lights. Let’s not forget our biggest time expense – Gift Giving.

It’s the season after all.

In the midst of chaos, it’s easy to forget that we all benefit when we give. It’s important to maintain a balance when it comes our children. If you only give and they only receive, you could be heading down the road to entitlement.

What can you do to help? Simple! Simple!

Charity

You don’t need to search for this time of year to find worthy charities that you can donate to. This can range from local groups like a food pantry or soup kitchen to international organizations.

There are several ways to get your children involved.

You can let your children choose the charity they want to donate to if maintaining distance is important to you. You can do this throughout the year!

If your children are very hands-on and enjoy working with others, then sign them up for a job at a local shelter or the bell rings for The Salvation Army.

Don’t forget that they can give to other children! This can be done by participating in the Angel Tree Program. Trees are available in many cities across the US. Your kids only need to find a tree and choose an ornament before heading to the store to purchase the necessary items for a child.

Please include them in the gift-giving process.

You can also encourage your children to participate in the gifting process.

Instead of adding the names on the gift tag, you can take them to shop for the actual present, either in person or online.

Ask questions such as: What would Grandma like to receive this year? What comes to mind when you think about your sister? What can you give to your father that will make him happy?

You will not only get great help this holiday season but also give your children a positive dose of power by showing an interest in their ideas and giving them some freedom to make decisions.

What’s the bottom line? The holidays are two-way. We both receive and give.

2. Create a gratitude list

Let’s not be frank. Most kids have a list of things they want for the holidays. While it’s fine to have them list the gifts they would like to receive, if you’re looking to avoid entitlement, I’ve got a better one for you.

A gratitude list.

It is easy to understand gratitude but difficult to put into practice. Making a list of everything we are thankful for may not seem difficult, but taking the time actually to do it can throw a wrench in our holiday plans.

This is where the list comes into play. When they make a list of gratitude, they automatically think about the things they are grateful for. They take their time and consider each item before committing it to mind.

This is a great task for both parents and children. Why not do it together, then?

Consider your family’s daily schedule and find a quiet time to sit down and create your lists. You can make them private or share them with your family.

Then, get writing. Ask questions and think about it!

What good things have I experienced recently? What am I most grateful for at this point in my life? What makes me happy in my life?

Gratitude is a simple act that can yield enormous rewards. When you do this with your children, you will see less entitlement and start to appreciate more.

3. Create Teachable Moments

You found a great opportunity to share with your daughter the importance of freedom when she asked why the Fourth of July is a holiday. Your son saw a man holding a cardboard banner on the side of the road, and this sparked a conversation about charity and helping others.

Every day is full of teachable moments. These are those moments that appear out of the blue and give us a chance to teach our children a valuable lesson. We can’t prepare for them. All we can do is be alert.

Teachable moments can be found in any situation. This is the secret sauce to help you open up your child’s mind and eliminate any entitlement that may be building.

It is important to find these moments, especially during the holidays.

Imagine…

Your 10-year-old son is begging for a new Xbox. The graphics are amazing, the games are fun, and all the other fifth-graders are getting them from their parents.

At $500, it is just too expensive.

You could certainly cut back on necessities or even skip the next month’s auto payment. He would be happy for sure! Would you do him any favors if you did?

No.

Think of it as an opportunity to teach.

It’s time to have an important, real conversation… about finances.

Has he been given an allowance? Tell him that if he wants to buy something so expensive, he will have to pay. You can help him save money by showing him how to do it.

Although I do not advocate paying children to do chores around the home (after all, they don’t get paid for doing the laundry, right? They can earn more money by doing additional work that is outside of their usual responsibilities.

Older kids can mow their neighbors’ lawns or shovel their sidewalks. Lemonade stands are a great idea for younger kids (with your assistance, of course).

This teachable moment can be taken to the next level by going beyond your four walls. If there are volunteer opportunities during the holiday season, take your son to a local shelter, VA, or soup kitchen.

Even though not all families can afford expensive gifts, they are still able to enjoy the holiday season. This would make him feel less entitled.

4. Less Presents. Less presents.

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to avoid holiday consumerism. Everywhere you look (or your kids), there is another advertisement tempting you with the newest gadget, device, or toy.

Why would your daughter not feel entitled to a brand-new American Girl doll this year? She was told by the commercial that she deserved it!

This is a difficult decision for you and your kids this year. I want to suggest that you simplify the process to reduce the temptation to buy endless gifts.

More presence. Presents less.

Turn off the TV and radio. Also, step away from social media for a while. These devices are a magnet for temptation.

Choose to buy fewer presents this year. It’s not that I suggest you purchase no gifts this year. After all, it’s the season to give. Just not as many.

 

Please stick to the four items on your child’s list: what they want, what they need, what they wear, and what they read. Simple!

Don’t forget, too, to give with mindfulness. Any parent will tell you that a heartfelt gift is more lasting than ten insignificant ones.

As always, the most valuable gift you can give is your time.

You may think, “Ha!” Why don’t I tell that to my 16-year-old?

This is a truly great gift, even if it means giving the gift differently.

Even teenagers can benefit from some one-on-one time, or as my Positive Parenting Solutions(r) members refer to it, mind, body, and soul time.

Would your 16-year-old enjoy a spa day with Mom? Your 5-year-old would love a trip to the zoo. Choose something fun (together!) Turn it into a present!

You will not only be giving a gift of time and attention but also a great experience. This is a great deal that gives you two things for the price of one!

Final Thoughts

It can be a real drag on the holidays when all your children say is Me, me, me, or “gimme gimme gimme.” I believe that no parent wants to raise a child who is entitled.

Help is never far away. You’ve found the right place if you are currently in the trenches with entitled children and terrified of the holiday season.

These four tips may be simple, but they are so powerful! They are simple but so effective!

 

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