Dec. 12, 2011 at 8:14 AM ET
The worst three words to hear at Christmas: "Is that all?"
TODAY Moms teamed up with Parenting.com to survey 6,000 moms about whether kids are spoiled by the holidays. Short answer? Oh boy, yes. Click here to see the full results, including what extremes parents will go to in order to get their kids the must-haves on their Christmas lists.
We asked moms to share their children's worst "ungrateful brat" moment, and what they did about it. The dreaded "Is that all?" -- usually heard after opening dozens of carefully chosen presents -- featured in many stories. Sometimes, a screaming meltdown in the toy aisle or a gimme-more attitude under the Christmas tree is just a laugh-about-this-later kind of story. Other times, a brat attack serves as a wake-up call; many of the moms who responded to our survey said their families made major changes as a result of holiday misbehavior.
Read on for some of the worst moments. If any of this looks familiar, join us on the TODAY Moms Facebook page on Tuesday at 1 pm ET for a live chat about un-spoiling with TODAY Moms contributor and parenting expert Amy McCready, author of “If I Have To Tell You One More Time…".
Get real, grandma!
My 4 year old son opened an art set my mother in law had given him and his reaction was to throw it down and scream "Oh! Come on grandma! What were you thinking?" I was horrified. Luckily she didn't hear him. I took him to the side and reminded him that even if we don't like something we say thank you or we'll hurt grandma's feelings.
Three gifts were good enough for Jesus...
Last year my then 3 year old didn't get the treasure chest that was on her list and threw an hour long fit. We explained that Santa can't bring everything on the list. This year Santa is banned and the kids will get stocking stuffers, 1 gift they want, 1 gift they need and we will have a larger family gift. No more Santa in this house. Everyone will get 3 gifts just like Jesus did.
Not the thank-you we were hoping for
5-year-old was upset not getting the exact gift he wanted. Then proceed to pull down his pants and pee on the carpet. Off to his room to think about it.
When a homeless guy gives you a pitying look, you know you're in trouble
I hate to say it but there's a few moments that I can choose from, but the worst that sticks out in my mind is when I was giving a homeless man doughnuts that we had just bought, we were in our car and my daughter started screaming, noooo that's mine! She actually said she didn't want to give him any. I handed the man the bag and drove off feeling like a heel. We had a long talk about sharing that night and about a year later we still have issues sharing.
And thus, the reason he's her ex
I can't recall my child having any memorable ungrateful moment. However, I do remember my ex-husband storming out of his parents home one year because they had spent more on our daughter that they had spent on him.
Something wrong with your ears, mom?!
My 6-year-old son decided he wanted a pack of Mexican jumping beans. He got mad when we said no and said, "But I said I WANTED it RIGHT NOW!" That really didn't work with us. We firmly said no, and immediately walked to the car and went home.
My 7-year-old son was obnoxious and ungrateful to the worst person possible -- an overanxious, overprotective, unpleasant mother of a school friend. I made him write a letter of apology and sent it in the mail, although secretly I was sympathetic -- she brings out the worst in me, too!
In your face, mom!
My daughter was given a much wanted gift from Santa after we had explained to her that Santa may not be able to fill such a tall order. She proceeded to shout for joy and scream “see I told you I’d get it from Santa! I TOLD YA!” Not the grateful appreciative response I’d hoped for.
Get this kid a lump of coal
He spit in santa's face
And you think the doll has a big head...
My daughter isn't too bad. She's usually pretty thankful for what she was but, last Christmas she kind of upset me. She wanted a Lalaloopsy doll SOOO bad last year. Well of course the one she wanted was no where to be found! So my husband searched and searched online until a week before Christmas for the one she wanted and FINALLY found one...for $20 more than it was worth. But we ordered anyways. So on Christmas she was so extremely happy she finally got one! Until I took it out of the box and handed it to her, she seemed a little surprised about how big and heavy it's head was. Well later on she took all her presents in her room, except her Lalaloopsy. I brought it in to her and asked her why she didn't wanted to play with it. She then said "I don't like her. Her heads to big and heavy." I just said okay and turned around and walked away. If only she knew what we went through to get that stinky doll!
Is this all?
A few years ago, after opening a pile of presents, my oldest turned around and said "Is this all?". After we discussed why that was ungrateful and unnecessary, we then set a limit on presents each child receives. First it was 3 gifts from each person - this year, each child chooses ONE thing that they want from each person. Hopefully, it will be more meaningful that way.
We created a monster
A close friend of our family came back from a trip bearing gifts for my children. Upon receipt of his gift, which was a little hand-carved wooden box from one of the countries my friend visited, his response was, "Oh brother, is that all?". I immediately sent him to his room and I followed shortly thereafter. I let him know what a rude, ungrateful little sh_— he was and that his behavior was going to result in some serious alterations in his acquisition of new things. He was then sent out to apologize to our friend. After our friend left, my husband and I discussed his horrible behavior and knew we had created this monster by our buying the kid just about anything he wanted, anytime he wanted it. His punishment for this behavior was being grounded for a week and each day of that week he had to pick out four of his gazillion toys to donate to homeless children. When the first day of "toy picking" resulted in him picking out little throw away "Happy Meal" toys, he was grounded for an additional week and informed that two of the four toys would be chosen from his favorites. We've stopped over-the-top toy buying and limit our purchases to special occasions or as rewards for stellar behavior and accomplishments. It took several months for my son to quit asking us to buy him something every time we walked into a store, but he eventually gave it up and is much more grateful for the things he does receive. It was a tough lesson for all of us!
It wasn't my kid, it was my cousin's kids. We 'draw names' and have a limit of $25. My husband and I drew the two children of my cousin. I bought each of the child a $24.86 gift that evidently wasn't good enough. The children are six and seven years old. They kicked and screamed and asked if that was "all [they were] getting" because it was stupid and they didn't like it. It literally ruined Christmas. For the record, my cousin did nothing but sit there and ignore them while they screamed and ran around crying. I had zero tolerance.
Want to give them everything I never had
It is difficult to determine when to dismiss bad behavior and selfishness as attributes of young children and when they should "know better". Having grown up extremely poor I have always been more determined to give my children everything and make sure they never want for anything - the result, they are spoiled. On one hand, I am happy that they cannot fully comprehend hardship because they have never experienced it but at the same time it truthfully does disgust me a bit. The incessant need to have more, regardless of what it is.
How about I get you nothing?!
I was in a store with my daughter and she wanted a stuffed animal that came in many colors. I picked one and put it into the cart. She stomped her foot and yelled, "NO, NOT THAT ONE! I wanted the blue one! NOT the red one! YOU GET ME THE BLUE ONE!". I put the red one back and told her that I would not be getting her any color at all. I told her that because she was disrespectful and by demanding something that was a gift to her, she lost it. If she had asked politely, I would have exchanged the colors.
Tag, you're spoiled!
I took my 6 year old son to play laser tag and we had a lot of fun. Afterwards, on the way home he said "We only got to play 2 games!" With kids these days it never seems enough. I was really mad and hurt by this. What ever happened to "thank you?"
Xbox versus food
He wanted a Xbox. I can not afford one. He had a fit stomped his feet, screamed in the store. We walked out of the store got into the car and came home. After he and I calmed down I explained to him once again how I could not buy one. I gave him the choice it was either food or a game system and asked him which was more important. He thought about it for a while and said food, and that he was sorry for acting like a brat.
The kindness of strangers
Demanded I buy some candy at the store in the check out. He kept screaming. I couldn't wait to get out of the store. I just kept ignoring him and told him since he was throwing a fit I could not buy the candy and I was not going to reward him for his actions. Maybe next time if he was good in the store he would get a treat. I thought I was driving the lady crazy in front of me. Most people give me dirty looks or tell me to just get it for them or even buy it for them. Instead this nice lady as she was leaving, told me I was doing a good job and was so glad I did not give in. It made me feel so much better and made it so I could get through the rest of the check out process with a screaming 2 year old. When we go home he went down for his nap.
It's a learning process
Accepting a gift graciously has been difficult to teach to our now 4 year old. When he gets a gift like a book he simply puts it to the side and asks what else they brought for him. Infuriating. It is getting better with time and lots of talks about it.... especially before a guest comes that we know will be bringing him a gift. Preparing him to be gracious is key.
That will suffice
After we bought her a $300 skateboard she asked for she unwrapped it and didn't even say thank you or smile. She said good. We informed her that it would be now her birthday gift as well since she was ungrateful.
Tears under the tree, a holiday tradition
After tearing through dozens of really cool Christmas gifts my son, who was then 6, began to cry. The reason? There were no more presents to open. With all of the excitement and build it seems the letdown was inevitable. It's just not a Christmas morning without tears under the tree ; ) Still makes me and my husband laugh.
Heckled on Christmas
After opening more gifts then anyone should receive my child turns and asks " That's all I get? Bunch of cheap people"!
Is that all?
After opening all his Christmas presents, my son actually looked at me and my husband and asked, "is that all?" After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we had to explain that he needed to be happy with what he received because there were kids who didn't receive anything that day and that he should be thankful for anything he got that day. Made us realize he was getting extremely spoiled and have scaled back Christmas each year since.
After opening a gift from a friend, my daughter (5) looked at the little girl giving the gift and then me, and said, "MOM! I DON'T EVEN LIKE THIS!" I WAS MORTIFIED! I stopped the whole thing, pulled her aside and told her how hurtful it was and how ungrateful she was being. She cried of course and refused to say she was sorry! WOW. I'm sure people thought we were great parents. She did the same thing to my mother-in-law a month later for Christmas! Repeat offender! Now we have a talk 2-3 times a week about two weeks prior to brithdays and Christmas with both our kids. GOT to be prepared for these things! Kids are so honest, they have no filter until about age 7!
The end of Christmas as we knew it
My oldest child was 5, his sister was still an infant, and he had opened all of his gifts, looked around, and threw an absolute temper tantrum about the lack of things he perceived he had earned/warranted/expected. TANTRUM! Crying, yelling, name calling (to us!), using SWEAR WORDS, breaking things.... My husband and I were stunned. Who was this ungrateful, ugly, brat of a child, and how did he get into our house?! That was the end of Christmas as we knew it. We were so ashamed of his behaviour, but truly we were ashamed of ourselves. We had let him become this way, we had allowed this behaviour. This was the worst episode, or the most obvious to us, but it had been ongoing. There had been tantrums in the store that were soothed with a candy at the register. Hurt feelings were eased with a special present. We were those parents, and I hadn't realized it until that moment. What a slap in the face. I'm glad for that morning though, it really taught us that we had become something we never expected. We took a big trash bag and collected every last toy he had received, and the non-essential clothing items (the fun clothes, he kept the boring basics). We told him he could keep one toy, and the rest were going to charity. I don't think he believed us, but we took him right down to the soup kitchen and handed over the big bag of unwrapped toys. The screaming and crying was almost surreal, but it was a such an important day for us. We got back on track and have stayed that way ever since - our children make their Santa list for what they would like to give others. We shop Black Friday as a family and fill our cart (probably $150 total) with toys and games. We are proud to bring each and every last of those toys to Toys for Tots. Our children write hand written thank you cards, AND personal/phone calls for every gift they receive, even if it's a tooth brush. And they are likely to get more socks, underwear and toothbrushes under the tree than toys. We do gifts, we get them toys, but really just two or three items that would be considered Christmas Toys. Our focus is on our family, how we can celebrate and be grateful for what we have, how we can share that with others, and how we can continue to look for the true meaning of the season: in our house, that means love, giving, and kindness. I'm grateful for that Christmas morning. It got us here.
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