How to deal with your Child’s impossible Christmas Wishlist!

It is officially the holiday season and now that Thanksgiving is over, children everywhere are starting to look forward to Christmas when they get to open presents. However, with that special day of giving comes “the list.”  You know what “list” I am referring to.  That long list of toys and electronics that children wish and hope for.  Unfortunately, for many of us parents, this list can create a feeling of dread because we know that there will most likely be items on our child’s wish list that we can’t possibly make happen.  This might make us feel inadequate as parents, especially after a year filled with changes due to covid, some of which may have impacted families financially, making it difficult to fulfil our children’s Christmas list items.

However, we need to remember, these Christmas lists are just wish lists!  Our children aren’t submitting a list of demands and purchase orders.  These items on those wish lists are their dreams, and in today’s day and age, it is so essential to let our children dream! There is nothing wrong with dreaming.  Let your children write all of their wishes down, from the very little things to impossible gifts like ponies and dirt bikes.  
It’s wonderful to hope, wish and have dreams, and you don’t want to discourage your child from doing just that.  It is, however, important to remind your children that their list is a “wish” list, not a “guarantee” list.  Just because they write it down doesn’t mean they get everything on the list and you can cheerfully explain that to them without discouraging them in any way.  

For younger children, it is ok to say that Santa and his elves are working very hard, but that they can’t necessarily give every child every item on their list.  However, let your children know that it is always good to wish and dream!
For older children, you know that the older they get, the more expensive the items that they ask for become.  I’m experiencing this first hand as my own children get older.  Some of their wishlist items are quite pricey, and there is absolutely no chance of all of their wishlist items making it under the Christmas tree.
Naturally, as parents, we have to let older children know that due to the cost of some of their wishlist items, only select items will make it under the tree.  By having this conversation, you are giving them a “heads up” so there won’t be any huge disappointments on Christmas morning.  There is, however, a practical way to deal with this problem as well.   

Consider giving your children an age appropriate allowance.   It doesn’t have to be a big allowance, but if a child thinks the only chance for him or her to receive what they wish for is at Christmas or their birthday, then the disappointment when they don’t receive the wished for items might be overwhelming.  Giving children an allowance is a great way to empower your children and at the same time teach them the valuable life lesson of the importance of saving money for the things that are important to them.  
By giving your children the option of saving and eventually purchasing items off of their wishlist, you are also curbing potential disappointment when wished for items don’t necessarily show up under the Christmas tree or at birthdays.

Worrying less about what they might be receiving will free them up to focus on the giving, which in itself is a lot of fun for children.  In my own family,  my wife and I have always given our children money and taken them to buy presents for each other and for some of their friends. Watching our children pick out gifts for others is equally as exciting for them as when they get to open their own presents.
Next week, how to navigate your kids through those family gatherings and other holiday parties.

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Jason Spear Miller