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By the U of A System Division of AgricultureNov. 27, 2019
(770 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – Fueled by advertising and friends’ chatter, children’s off-the-chart
holiday gift expectations can lead to disappointment, overspending and put a pall
over what should be a bright spot in the year. However, there are ways to keep everyone
“Holiday advertising can be overwhelming for kids,” said Brittney Schrick, extension
family life specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“They want everything they see in that moment, but will move on quickly to something
The first step to reining in expectations is to limit what your kids see.
“Discard catalogs that come in the mail, avoid commercial television when you can,
and take their comments with a grain of salt,” Schrick said.
Timing is everything when it comes to asking children for a gift list.
“Ask them at a time when they are not looking directly at things they are supposed
to want,” she said. “For example, asking them while in a store or while they are looking
at a catalog or website will skew what they want to include what they see. Give them
time to think about it.”
Schrick suggests dividing the wish list among relatives and others rather than having
children answer each person individually.
With very young children, “it's a good time to set their expectations with realistic
ideas of what they will get,” she said. “Rather than going overboard early, give only
a few gifts.”
It’s good to let children know there are limits.
“Be direct with your children about the fact that they will not get everything they
ask for,” Schrick said, urging parents to “be thoughtful about the things you choose
to spend money on, share space with, and introduce to your children.”
When in doubt, use the test of four by asking yourself these questions:
It may feel good to give lots and lots of gifts, but if they overtax your finances,
your space, your child's attention, or end up being discarded quickly, your resources
are likely better used in other ways.
“Be willing to set boundaries with relatives or others around you who give gifts to
your family,” Schrick said. “If you do not have space for more toys, tell your family.
If you would prefer consumable items that don't take up space like gift cards or experiences,
make that known. Resentment can build up over time if boundaries are not set or expectations
are not managed.”
If your child expects gifts from Santa, help them to understand that Santa works with
parents and doesn't bring everything they ask for.
“If you have a lot of resources and will give your children extravagant or expensive
gifts, take credit for giving them those gifts yourself rather than giving the credit
to Santa,” Schrick said. “Although it may be fun for you, it is difficult for kids
who don't get a lot to understand why Santa doesn't bring them as much as their friends.”
Schick also noted that “the holiday season is also a wonderful time to go through
existing toys and donate unused toys in good condition to local charities or to trade
with or sell them to other families.”
For more information on family issues, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com