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Episode 141: Why is my kid so ungrateful after Christmas?
Question of the Day:
I should have seen it coming.
The hype and high expectations for Christmas to be “the most wonderful time of the year” seems to cause my child to melt down after all the gifts have been opened.
I’m seeing the pattern now after the last few birthdays and Christmasses. Something minor will trigger her (and it could be ANYTHING!) and she’ll end up in tears.
What really sets me off is that she sounds so ungrateful!
All the time, effort, money and energy that I put into giving her a magical Christmas feels wasted. When she’s crying and yelling about not getting the exact COLOR of the gift she wanted, she sounds so bratty and entitled. I just want to scream right back and not give her anything next year so she can be grateful for what she does get.
But of course, a year later, I’m back to spoiling her and trying to make her happy.
How can I make my child appreciate what she receives, remember it’s the thought that counts, and focus on the spirit of giving, not the actual gift?
So far, her younger sister does not copy her behavior and I want to figure this out before she does.
What’s the best way to handle this ungrateful behavior and prevent future meltdowns?
Parent Educator Answer:
What goes up, must come down.
It is not unusual for the anticipation and excitement of holidays and birthdays to cause a “crash” when things die down.
With all the hype from Christmas movies, Santa stories, and family traditions setting expectations high, it’s only natural for there to be disappointment afterward.
Top 3 reasons why kids melt down after a holiday:
1. The reality doesn’t measure up to their high expectations causing disappointment.
2. There are a lot of emotions around the holidays and crying is a healthy release for them. Crying and yelling have a negative connotation but it’s actually a way to discharge emotional distress and bring kids back to normal.
3. They are out of their routine. Some kids are especially sensitive to disruptions in routine, even for fun and exciting reasons. Traveling, staying up late, having family visit, eating different food, can make kids extra cranky and prone to meltdowns.
The best way to prepare for future meltdowns is to normalize it. How many Christmas movies have you watched where kids are throwing tantrums and crying? Not many. We think this is abnormal and inappropriate behavior, but is it?
Watch and see if your kids look for things to be upset about. Maybe they overreact to a stubbed toe or a sibling slight, just as an excuse to discharge the pent up emotions of the day?
You can also help your kids by maintaining a similar routine during the holidays and preparing them for disappointment.
Having words to put onto overwhelming feelings can really help your kids manage their emotions. Print out a page of emoji’s or ‘feeling faces’ and post it on the fridge. Everyday, identify how you feel: enthusiastic, disappointed, irritable, because when you can name it, you can tame it.
Use emotional times to help expand your kids’ emotional vocabulary.
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from normalizing holiday meltdowns and preparing our kids for disappointment?
Our interpretation of their “ungrateful” behavior.
When we view our kids as being “ungrateful” or “entitled” we get enraged. It fires us up and makes us angry. We want to withdraw our kid’s privileges (which may not be a problem) but we also withdraw our kindness and our compassion (which can be a problem).
You can decide to give kids fewer gifts next year from a place of love, not anger.
You can teach kids how to appreciate gift giving and receiving with kindness, not frustration.
Viewing our children’s behavior as “ungrateful” is just our perception, and it’s an interpretation that does not help us parent in a way we are proud of.
Instead, think of their behavior as a result of emotional overwhelm. None of us are at our best when we are tired, cranky, and ate too much sugar. Think of all the adults having temper tantrums in airports this holiday season!
When your kid complains about their gifts not being perfect, just remind yourself that it’s not about the gifts. It’s a simple case of what goes up, must come down.
One of the best ways to help them cope with holiday hype, is to get them involved in the process. As you may have noticed, when you are responsible for ‘making magic’, it doesn’t feel so magical, it feels like hard work. Invite your child to get involved in the GIVING to take the focus off receiving. Bake cookies for the neighbors, make an ornament for teacher, move the elf on the shelf for little sister, wrap a present for grandma. She might still meltdown on Christmas but she will understand and appreciate the effort that goes into giving, bringing the holiday, and her expectations, back down to earth.
Supermom Kryptonite: Using New Year’s Resolution to “fix what’s broken”
When we see ourselves as problems to be fixed, and we set New Year’s Resolutions from that mindset, we set ourselves up for failure.
We love the perfectionistic fantasy that 2023 will turn us into a completely different person. It gives us a little dopamine high to imagine we can leave all our imperfections behind in 2022 and suddenly become a disciplined, energetic, patient, plant-based, exercise-loving, self-prioritizing enthusiast.
As fun as this fantasy is, it is today’s kryptonite because three weeks from now, when you are back to your old self, you’ve piled another “failure” onto your psyche.
DO NOT MAKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FROM NOT ENOUGHNESS.
You are not a problem to be fixed. You are a wonderful, amazing person who loves to grow and expand in beautiful new directions!
Before you make any resolutions, look back at 2022 and write down 20 things that are wonderful about you.
What did you love the most
Where did you feel most alive?
What are you most proud of? What did you work hardest to achieve?
Which experiences did you create for your family that went really well?
Are there routines and traditions did you maintain?
Where did you break from expectations that worked for you?
Who is someone that really valued your presence in their life?
Who were you really grateful to have with you last year?
DO NOT SET A GOAL UNTIL YOU ARE MARINATING IN YOUR OWN AWESOMESAUCE.
Choose which area to expand from believing you are already good enough as you are.
Supermom Power Boost – Set the intention to “BE MORE ME in 2023”
Many Supermoms think energy is static. Either you are a high energy person, or a low energy person. You have it in the morning and it’s drained by evening.
But energy is something you can CREATE. If you feel low on energy, and want more, you can GENERATE more energy!
One of the best ways I’ve found to generate energy is by creating a vision board. This isn’t just a visual representation of your goals. There is a certain technique I’ve perfected over the years that cuts through the mental clutter and connects us with our higher self.
We are socialized to think we should all want the same things: Skinny, fit bodies. Lots of money. Nicely organized houses. Enriching activities for the kids. Relaxing vacations.
Our culture tells us what we should want, but it’s our HIGHER SELF that knows what is really right for us. Learning how to listen to this still small voice is the key to creating a truly enriching and meaningful life.
Sign up today for the online vision board party on Saturday, January 21st from 9-12pm PT / 12-3pm ET.
The first hour we’ll talk about how to tell the difference between the socialized brain telling you what you “should” want, and the intuitive brain, guiding you in a direction right for YOU.
The second hour, we’ll be looking through magazine photos, listening to our higher selves, and creating a physical vision for what we want in 2023.
The third hour, we’ll use the messages from our higher self to set specific goals. How do we take our knowledge and vision, overcome our fears, to bring in “MORE OF ME IN 2023”.
Go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/vision-boardLEARN MORE ABOUT THIS MONTH'S VISION BOARD WORKSHOP