It’s that time of the year once again when our days and nights are filled with get-togethers and shopping, wrapping, giving, and receiving gifts. Part of what makes this season magical and a favorite for most people especially kids are, let’s admit it, partly due to the number of presents they receive.
However, I couldn’t help but notice a certain trend during the Holidays — based on posts from Facebook mommy groups I regularly trawl. The common theme of such posts goes along the lines of:
- A child throws a tantrum upon receiving his present from the class Christmas exchange gift because (1) it’s not what he specified in his wishlist or (2) he doesn’t like it. Period.
- A parent gets angry at the teacher because he thinks that the gift his child received from again, the class Christmas exchange gift is below the allotted budget. So he thinks it’s unfair as they follow the said budget.
- Most teachers implementing a “Parent Santa” scheme wherein parents will be the ones to give their kids Christmas presents and distributed during class. Obviously to prevent the first two from happening.
Has it come to this? Choosing between gifting our kids presents instead of letting them participate in a community exchange gift or dealing with public tantrums. Hopefully, no. As kids can be taught to be grateful and keep themselves and their smiles in check, no matter the gift they receive. And it is up to us parents, to teach them.
Perhaps one of the main reasons for Christmas gift tantrums is expecting too much of a gift. Tell your kids that providing a wish list is not a guarantee that that’s what they’ll get. It’s more of suggestions, and that they shouldn’t expect to receive what’s on it or especially, all of it. Explain to them as well that you, as their parents, ninongs or ninangs, and even their classmates are not obligated to follow it.
Let them have their tantrum.
If your child received a gift that didn’t meet his expectations and is pouting and crying, let him be. Although let’s all pray that this happens to us at home and not in front of other family, or gasp, an entire class of kids. But if he ever does end up having that tantrum or meltdown, DO NOT offer to make it right. If the gift-giver witnessed said reaction over his gift, try to apologize for your child as his reaction could be perceived as ungrateful. If you’re with strangers, excuse yourself and your child and go somewhere more private. But ignore him still while he’s having his meltdown (but do ensure that he’s safe). Once he has simmered down, you can then try talking and reasoning with him over his reaction.
Teach empathy and gratitude.
Perhaps the best way to avoid public displays of ungratefulness is to find opportunities to teach empathy and gratitude throughout the year. Find times to point out how lucky they are, even over the simplest things. And if they don’t get what they want, such as a wrong piece of candy or food, explain why such a reaction can be considered rude and how that can hurt your feelings. Ask them how they would feel if you had the same reaction to something they gave. Take note, such teaching moments shouldn’t be a sermon or a talking to. It can be through your daily conversations or even stories. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you have no choice but to deal with his meltdowns.
Don’t throw a tantrum as well.
Our kids learn a lot from us and our actions as well. So please, don’t throw a tantrum. Especially if it’s over a small thing such as an item received from an exchange gift in a kindergarten class. Can you even see how ridiculous that is?
Ultimately, it’s ok to want our kids to enjoy the Holiday season but let’s not put too much emphasis on the gifts. And although the “Parent Santa” scheme can be an acceptable solution to Christmas exchange gift tantrums, it somewhat negates the whole concept of exchanging gifts. Yes, exchange gifts can be somewhat unfair but isn’t that the whole lesson in this exercise? For us to realize that it is better to give than to receive and to share what we have selflessly. I sure hope that this lesson is not lost on us parents as well.