Are kids naturally greedy? Or is there something about the
holidays that brings it out? How seriously should we as parents take
The holiday season represents a special and unique time of the year
for adults and children alike. For many adults, the holidays can bring
of pressure and stress when too much focus is placed on the numerous
tasks which must be accomplished in order to have a successful holiday.
adults, a conscious shift in perspective that refuels an attitude of
gratitude can help tremendously in bringing back the joyous feelings of
The same goes for our children. It is quite easy, as a child, to
become encapsulated by the material nature of our holidays as depicted
by the numerous
presents under the tree, or the gift-based classroom celebrations
occurring before the holiday break. The enjoyment experienced when
receiving and opening
a gift is a very reinforcing feeling for both adults and children.
This feeling is natural. An attitude of gratitude is a higher-order
emotion that is
learned behavior. Teaching kids to be grateful is an important
lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
· What (if anything!) can parents do to prevent greediness popping up in kids around the holidays?
The most important thing parents can do to prevent ungrateful
children around the holidays is to model appreciation and provide
children with the
opportunities to experience this emotion first hand. Provide
children with opportunities to learn what it means to be thankful,
thoughtful, and giving in
ways that they will relate to such as taking toys and baked cookies
to homeless shelters that house families. Another idea is to host family
center around themes of generosity by watching inspirational movies
that teach gratitude (i.e. Pay It Forward, The Blind Side, The Ultimate
Alone, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Willy Wonka & the
Chocolate Factory, etc.).
· If you've got a Veruca Salt on your hands who is asking for more,
more, more, is it too late? What can you do to tamp down the gimme
gimmes? How do you
deal with an ungrateful child?
It is never too late to teach your children about gratitude.
Tampering down the gimme gimmes requires helping children shift their
perspectives to become
more aware of what they have, possibly in relation to others less
fortunate, or in relation to what it took to receive what they currently
requires us, as parents, to also be mindful of our response to the
holiday season. When we start becoming overwhelmed with the hustle and
bustle of to-do
lists, we can remind ourselves of the same lessons we are teaching
· What about kids who wait to show this ugly side until the gift
opening has begun? Any tips for parents when their kids display jealousy
over siblings' or
This too, is not uncommon. The event of gift-opening can be the
epitome of materialistic encapsulation for a child. Shifting that
materialism to gratitude can be done through gentle reminders of
what was learned during recent gratitude events (such as family movie
cookies for the homeless, taking toys to children, etc.), by talking
about the history or story behind the holiday (such as “The Story of
teaching gift etiquette. One way to do this is to focus gift-opening
on giving rather than on receiving and allow each gift-giver a
moment to tell each gift-receiver how special he or she is and share gratitude for him or her prior to presenting a gift.
Written by Dr. Andria Hernandez
Dr. Andria Chatfield-Hernandez is the Director of Clinical Training
for the College of Counseling, Psychology and Social Science at Argosy
Dr. Chatfield-Hernandez is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a Private Practice in Yorba Linda, California.
Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or YLPsychServices@gmail.com
The information and opinions expressed herein represent the
independent opinions and ideas of Dr. Andria Chatfield-Hernandez and do
not represent the
opinions and ideas of Argosy University.