How much is too much when it comes to holiday gift giving? Each year it seems that parents spend more money and buy more gifts for their children with the hope that the new toys will make them happy. But everyone knows that it is possible to spoil kids with too many gifts, and some, like Education Week blogger Michele Molnar, think that too many gifts may even be a detriment to their education.
Too many gifts may lead to expectations of instant gratification
Molnar argues that giving children too many gifts, at the holidays or at any other time of year, teaches them to expect instant gratification. She quotes Jean Illsley-Clark, an author and co-creator of an Overindulgence website. According to Illsley-Clark:
What we’ve found is that too much stuff [creates] a big stumbling block to learning delayed gratification. The ability to delay gratification is a tremendously important personal quality for achieving those things that you want. Delayed gratification is absolutely basic to success in school.
When is it time to cut back?
As an only child, I received a lot of gifts from my parents and relatives — usually everything that I wanted, and more. It’s difficult to say how this affected me as I grew up, but I don’t think that the presents I received on my birthday or the holidays made it more difficult for me to succeed in school because my parents instilled the values of hard work, patience and independence in me despite the material gifts they were able to give me.
There is probably some truth in Molnar’s argument in that we could all afford to cut back a little bit over the holidays. The giant pile of crumpled wrapping paper on my living room floor is proof enough of that. But parenting and helping your child to succeed in school is surely more complicated than the gifts you give. If your child expects gifts all the time, has a hard time waiting for something he or she wants, or seems unusually focused on material things, then it may be time to hold back a little on the gift giving.
What do you think?
How much is too much? Do you know someone who goes overboard with gifts, to the detriment of their children? Have you occasionally gone overboard yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo credit: lorenkerns
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