Letters to Santa are a rite of passage, but sometimes kids can’t help but get crazy with the gift list part of the letter. So how can parents help tame the desires for ponies, puppies and plenty of toys, toys, toys? Here, three ways to help kids have reasonable gift expectations.
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1. Shape young kids’ expectations of Santa.
The wish lists of younger children tend to change and grow longer every day as the holidays come closer. If they want gifts you find unacceptable, such as playthings with violent agendas or gender stereotypes or toys designed for older kids, let your child know that Santa is not going to bring such toys to your house. You can do this without destroying the magic. Let them know that Santa carries toys for many, many children all over the world, so they need to keep their list small enough so that Santa can bring gifts to lots of houses and he will choose the best things from their lists.
2. Help older kids prioritize what they really want.
Even older kids get caught up with impossible dreams as they make their wish lists. Be honest. Let them know that although it's fun to dream, no one gets everything on their list. After they have the fun of making a long list, have them indicate the 1, 2, or 3 things they want the most. Be sure they understand the list has to include a range of choices from wildest wishes, to realistic choices they would like with a price range from here to reality. Doing this helps temper their expectations without killing the magic of Christmas and makes gift-giving easier for you and relatives.
3. Consider pooling resources for a big gift.
Wish lists are good to share with family members who might be happy to chip in together on a single toy that a child is longing for rather than each buying a lot of small gifts. This works well for those big-ticket items that may be the most desired item on a tween's list.
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Child development experts Joanne and Stephanie Oppenheim are the co-founders of the independent consumer website www.toyportfolio.com. For a complete list of age-appropriate toys, visit ToyPortfolio.com http://toyportfolio.com/> .