Long before babies are even born, let alone able to show appreciation and say “thank you” they become receivers of gifts from good intentioned friends and family members who love to dote on the little ones in your life. Nice, but the problem is over time, getting gifts can become an “expectation” of children.
Receiving a gift is great, but kids should never expect them from the adults in their lives. Teaching kids at a young age that life isn’t about getting presents and what gift giving is all about is important. Presents should be looked at as a bonus or happy surprise when they are received and kids should appreciate not only the giver’s efforts and thought put into each gift, but also the cost that was involved.
How can a gift be extra special to your kids if they are bombarded by gifts at every turn and expect them? What does this say about how they will perceive money?
They Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Always Get What They Want
Some parents ask their kids to put together “wish lists” for birthdays and holidays and although it’s great to get a genuine idea of what your kids would like, you set yourself up to fail their wishes if you cannot produce the items they’ve requested. If you do get them all of the things on their lists you instead set your child up to expect this every time.
Kids need to be taught what a gift entails in order to appreciate it.
The Meaning Of A Gift
Many gifts are given to mark milestones, commemorate traditions, or are congratulatory in nature. Do your kids understand the significance of why they are receiving a gift?
It is parents who instill why or when children expect presents or other tokens. If you begin a pattern of giving them something every time you are late, or have to work a weekend, or go out of town on a trip, your kids will then begin to expect that behavior. If you go overboard all the time for the holidays your kids will expect that every time.
What happens when you can’t?
Learning & Earning
Teaching kids about money and the cost of doing business in today’s world is a benefit to the child and the parent. Not only will kids learn that it takes work to make money, they will also learn that all the “wants” of life are above and beyond all the “needs” of life and takes goal setting, and sometimes even saving to accomplish.
When children request gifts, make sure they realize money isn’t endless. When kids want to give gifts, help them earn and save money to do so.
Did You Let Them Down?
You should never feel like a failure as a Mom, especially over giving (or not giving) a gift. Motherhood is challenging for sure, but the perks and the love you get in return is worth every second of doubt or angst you may have. There are times in every one’s lives that money is tighter than others. When those times come children can experience a transition that isn’t often thought about.
The patterns you set forth are the patterns that are followed. What kind of patterns are you laying out for your family? Do your children know the importance of money and how that relates to gift giving?