There's always lots of talk around this time about the cost of Christmas to families, the pressure on parents to buy the latest toys, the power of advertising on both children and adults and such like. I read an interesting article, Christmas, Materialism and Toys that had some good advice for parents. It's slightly lengthy so I've selected a few bits from the article that I particularly liked:
Help develop their imagination:
"Simpler toys like dolls, construction kits, train sets and cars, ‘house’ items like kitchen sets provide the richest experience for children because they can use their own imagination more".We have bought our son some Lego for Christmas, just the basic building bricks, so I was especially pleased to read this next bit. He has been given special sets where you follow instructions and I hadn't thought about it before but indeed, the scope with those is so much more limited:
The concern of over-indulgence: My son had his fourth birthday yesterday and had so many (arguably too many) presents, mostly due to all the friends who came to his birthday party. It was really too much for him to take in, appreciate and value so I can definitely relate to the following:"There has even been a change in Lego from simple bricks which allow the child to create and problem solve to sets with specific dedicated pieces and instructions which dictate what should be made. If children get spoon fed everything, even in play, their imaginations close down, they don’t develop the ability to pursue sustained thought and they get bored easily... "
"Many parents are concerned about falling into the trap of over-indulging their children, fearing that their children will grow up to be overly acquisitive and never satisfied, unable to appreciate the true cost of things or differentiate between their needs and their wants."Children learn by example - we always need to remember to practise what we preach! If we want to encourage all things in moderation, then as parents we need to be moderate in our gift-giving and think quality over quantity. Likewise, to teach our children about giving to others, we need to show them it in action, not just in words.
Encourage your child to enjoy the act of giving. The article offers some good tips for engaging your child in giving at Christmas time, such as thinking of non-material gifts (homemade cookies, a story or picture they've created etc), giving to those less fortunate in your local community, having them help select a gift for a particular person and talking through the process (what the person likes, cost etc).
Some of the advice sounds obvious perhaps, but if nothing else it's a good reminder of what our responsibilities are as parents to help instill the kind of values that are important in our own family. Have a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments.