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Making the Holidays Less Materialistic

Ask the Experts by Eric Herman

It's not the gifts but what's bind them that's important - the spirit of giving. Help your kids learn the fun of giving with some parental tips to help curb materialism in your kids and reinforce the real reason for the season:

Q. During this time of year kids are bombarded with commercials to entice them to want a variety of toys and gadgets they may not need. What can parents do?

A. Of course, it can be challenging to eliminate all exposure to TV and radio marketing messages, but you can always turn off the TV or limit your kids' watching time.

Another important tip is to teach children that not everything they want can always be theirs and that a little "want" here and there isn't all bad. 

Q. What are some things that parents can do to help make the holiday more meaningful?

A. Focus on Family Traditions. Talk about which family traditions your family loves the most or find out what the holidays mean to others.

You can also work as a family to build new traditions. Show kids that giving your time, effort, and kindness is more rewarding than just expecting to receive lots of presents. 

Q. What are some of the lessons children and even adults can learn from giving to others?

A. There are many, including giving to others can show that one person can make a difference. Giving also highlights the benefits of sacrifice and tolerance, and it can also help children learn to be even more appreciative of what they have.

Q. What's the most important thing parents can do to help their children appreciate the spirit of giving this holiday season?

A. Parents need to be a good holiday role model. Show your kids that the holidays can be joyous and fulfilling, not just a stress-ridden time that revolves around marathon shopping trips.

If you start early with traditions that emphasize the true meaning of the holidays and the caring thoughts behind gift giving, you can help to mold your kids' perspectives on the holiday season and what it means to both give and receive all year long.

Eric Herman, MA, LLP, clinical psychologist at DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan, a nationally recognized pediatric hospital, provided the practical tips in this article to achieve success. For more information about DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan visit DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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