Friday, December 28, 2007

Spoiled at Christmas?

The theme of Christmas this year in our household? "I didn't order this from Santa!" That sounds bad, but our son actually said it more like a question. He couldn't figure out why Santa brought him all these toys that weren't on his list.

Here's how we got to this point:
A friend of mine had this great tip for preventing kids from being spoiled at Christmas. Let your 4-year-old pick something he wants and something he needs. O.K. that sounded fine to me, but I don't see my son (the first grandchild on both sides) only getting two gifts. However, I attempted to do this anyway because I don't want him to be spoiled. My son wrote a letter to Santa asking for a kitchen and a cash register with money.

My husband and I decided to travel to all three grandparents' homes this holiday. (I think we're crazy.) I didn't realize how inconsistent the Santa stories would be from house to house and how quickly my son would start questioning things.

My dad's house was first. He got him some great gifts, but he said they were from Santa. What does my son say? "I didn't order this from Santa! I think he got my name mixed up with another kid." And he didn't just say this once. It was repeated over and over this year! It was quite embarrassing! He only expected the two gifts we wrote down in his Santa letter.(And yes, my 4-year-old said "order" instead of "want." I'm not sure where that came from.)

And the stories about why Santa brought him gifts at every one's house made absolutely no sense. Some gifts were left at the door. Other gifts were under the tree after church. Some gifts magically fit through the chimney. Others were left on the front porch because they didn't fit through the chimney. It was crazy trying to keep all the stories straight, but also very amusing!

So, my little one didn't expect to be spoiled for Christmas this year, but it happened anyway. I don't know what to do now. I think we'll have to start over next year and just make him very grateful for all the gifts he got this year. We also talked about giving away some of his toys he no longer plays with.

I got to thinking, what is a spoiled child anyway? When I looked at the definition of a spoiled child I realized my son isn't really spoiled. He just got too many gifts. Spoiled has a lot more to do with how a child acts. Are there a lot of tantrums? Does he follow instructions or say "no" constantly? Does he try to boss other people around?

And what really causes children to be spoiled? Most experts say it's the parenting. It's about sticking to the rules you set and not giving in. I think we all know it's sometimes much easier to give in! I will have to keep this in mind.

Dr. Barton Schmitt estimates about 5% of children are truly spoiled.

Do you have any advice for parents trying to prevent their kids from being spoiled?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Anonymous said...

I think spoiled means no boundaries, the children are self-centered, demanding, manipulative, and used to having things go their way all the time.

Spoiling a child is a serious abusive event. It makes them crazy and unliked by others.

The opposite of a spoiled child would be a caring and sharing child. One who has learned self-restraint, sacrifice, compromise, and patience.

Thought provoking post. Thanks!

A Guy at said...

I must have been somewhat spoiled as a kid, but in a good way, in that I do optimistically expect things to go my way, when my conscience is not bothering me, and I don't get too frustrated when I hit a roadblock to my wishes.

Appreciating what you already have is so tough in a consumerist society.

But I feel I was spoiled a bit, because I have a collector's mentality about things I like. For example, electronic and jazz music CDs. Or books.

I feel I "deserve" that new edition of Mallarme's poetry, or that new My Cat Is An Alien CD.


Welcome to the blogosphere.

workingmom432 said...

This story was quite intriguing to me. I have a four year old as well and was trying to figure out how to make him undestand that mom's checking account just plain wasn't going to allow for a "lots of gifts" Christmas. I sadly looked at the tree on Chrismas Eve after I placed the presents around the tree, three presents per child. One from me, two from Santa. I felt horrible. Not for the older siblings because I honestly can use logic to explain to them how much fun it will be to shop AFTER the holidays when the real sales are out there and I am not so strapped. But my four year old didn't understand that.

Good blog. Will be curious to see how you handle next year!

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