Making our kids happy without making them feel entitled
Don’t you loving reading kid’s wish lists or letters to Santa? It’s so easy get a picture of what the child is like and what his interests and priorities are. If a kid can’t create a wish list, it’s a warning sign of low self worth and depression. It is SO important for kids to be able to ask for what they want, and believe they are worthy of receiving it.
As parents, our desires often get buried under the daily to-do list and we lose touch with what we really want. The feeling of yearning, of wanting, is very valuable and I’m often coaching my clients into reconnecting with this feeling. We need it to know who we really are and what’s next for us. It provides us a road map for our life. WANTING is wonderful, but you might want to read this before indulging your child in all of their desires.
None of us wants to create entitled kids but we all want to see our children happy. Watching their face light up when they open that gift they were so hoping to receive is OUR reward for all the hard frickin’ work! Let’s start by admitting that giving kids what they want is about US, wanting to make our kids happy so we can be happy.
What creates the “omg this is the best present ever” moment we all crave, is when the child is hopeful, but doubtful. It’s the surprise element that helps the child feel loved, seen and heard. If you always buy your child everything on their list, they lose the surprise and appreciation. Then, opening the gift just turns it into a checklist. When children expect to receive everything on their wish list, it changes from a “this is my heart’s desire and yearning” to an “here’s an errand I expect you to run for me”. Yuck.
Sometimes kids want gifts just because “everyone else wants them or has them”. Games, clothes, electronics, etc. can act a social marker between kids. If the kids your child likes and wants to be friends with, all talk about xbox, your child will want to be able to speak that language, talk about the latest games or levels, and feel accepted by his peers. This is a valid reason to want something, especially during the pre-adolescent years when they are trying to establish their identity.
My daughter has wanted UGG boots for years. Spending that much money on something that will make her (naturally hot) feet sweat and that she will grow out of quickly, is really hard for me. With so many better alternatives, the cost goes against my values. Helping my daughter have a sense of belonging and connection with her social group is aligned with my values, so I’m delegating to Grandmas and hope they can resolve the issue for me.
“Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read”
Remember, Christmas is for US. We do most of the work which means we can make it whatever we want it to be. By filling their stockings with deodorant, nail clippers and socks, you can make their “wants” that much more exciting. Giving practical gifts remind them that the “magic of Christmas” isn’t about the gifts themselves but the surprise, the traditions, the togetherness and the energy of giving.
So just be sure, if you are indulging your child in their desires, that you don’t do all items every year and you give them plenty of opportunity to experience yearning. There are many things that make the holidays special, make sure you aren’t sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of your children’s wish list.
So what’s on your wish list Mama?