3 Tips to Manage a Child’s Christmas Wish List

Is your child’s wish list growing out of control? Here’s how to cope with those unrealistic Christmas wish lists.

When it comes to wish lists, parents usually start hearing the “I wants” from their children a good month or more before the Big Guy in Red even arrives. Before we know it, our kids have a wish list for Santa as long as their arm. The problem is, many of the things kids ask for have more to do with the advertising they’ve been inundated with, than with their actual desires. But that doesn’t have to be the case says child-life specialist, Bindy Sweet. She says there are ways to help guide children to choose gifts that really mean something to them.

1. Consider  limiting television time. “I think the less kids are exposed to the media and TV telling them what toy they should have, the more true choices they’ll be making and the more influence the parent can have on how the choice goes, what it looks like and how big it gets”, says Sweet.

2. Relax a little and remember that half the fun is in the wishing, not the getting. Child psychologist Dr. Robin Holloway feels parents should “allow the child the enthusiasm, the enjoyment, the involvement that comes with making these unrealistic, idealized Christmas gift lists”, explains Holloway who adds “at the same time we have to find a way, without stomping on the child’s dreams, to tell them that the reality just can’t be.”

3. Listen to your child’s wishes before the commercials kick in. Because wish lists can go on and on, it’s difficult to discern what presents your child really wants, but ”if you’re listening to your child all year you’re really going to know what they really want and they’ll be less interested in the advertising that influences them at the last moment”, says Sweet. “If you have your ears and eyes open all year, you’ll know what will really interest them that particular Christmas.”

Many experts agree it’s wise to temper a child’s wildest dreams with a gentle dose of reality so that their hopes don’t become too high, and in turn their disappointment too great. Other than that, don’t worry too much about what your child receives over the holidays. All in all, if your child opens age appropriate gifts, then chances are they’ll be happy Christmas morning.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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