Can receiving too many gifts harm your child?


Christmas, or any religious holiday, is a special time for many families - bringing an opportunity to enjoy time together and with all of the special elements the day brings.

The presence of children can make the day even more delightful for families, with their excitement making even the more jaded family members feel renewed joy.

You can see why everyone might go a little over the top with gifts for children at these times. At this time of year, we hear stories of parents spending thousands of dollars on their children's gifts and saving up all year for to spoil their child completely on the day.

But is it genuinely harming your child when they get lots of gifts? Well, it depends on a few things.

How many toys does your child have and do they appreciate them?

I am assuming they have a few toys - 'a few' is possibly an understatement - but too many is not good.

Recent research shows that an abundance of toy choices appears to reduce the quality of toddler play, because they will play with each one for a shorter time and with less imagination. It may mean that their attentional skills are not developed and their creativity not as well used.

Do your children actually appreciate the gifts when they receive them?
Do your children actually appreciate the gifts when they receive them?

If you have bought them a few toys for the under the tree, it might be a good idea to do a bit of a stocktake and throw some away prior, or give them to charity.

Ideally if two are coming in then at least two should go out. Get your child involved to give them the good feelings of giving to others less fortunate than they are.

You also might like to slowly introduce their gifts on the day. So, they might open a new gift at different parts of the day or over the next few days. Many parents find this more manageable for all and enabling children to engage more with the presents they receive.

What types of toys are you giving them?

The best toys are the ones that don't do it all for them and force your child to think. Experts consider toys that develop creativity or imagination to trump all other toys because they demand more from your child and help develop their creativity, fine motor, spatial and mathematical skills.

Let's face it, many times, children are more excited about the cardboard box than the item that came in the box.

Sometimes the child is more excited by the wrapping and the box than the actual gift.
Sometimes the child is more excited by the wrapping and the box than the actual gift.

Try to avoid giving them items that are only used for one purpose. Instead, chose items such as building bricks and drawing equipment that use their imagination.

How is your child's sense of gratitude?

Have they asked for or demanded things? When they get gifts, do they thank the giver for it or complain that their sibling got something better?

If they are lacking in gratitude, then it might be a good idea to pull back a bit on always giving them what they want and hold some gifts over for their birthday. You might also like to ask extended family members to reign in their generosity or give gifts for the whole family, rather than just your child, say a voucher to go roller-skating or to the movies.

Consider your child’s sense of gratitude.
Consider your child’s sense of gratitude.

Have they worked for anything this year?

Sure, you can give your child one or two things they asked for (hopefully nicely), but there should be some things that they work for to give them a sense of satisfaction of truly earning their sweet life. So, you might give them a gaming device, but give them the chance to earn a few games by doing a few more chores on top of the ones they already do. If they are asking for a big-ticket item, such as a new screen, give them some money to go toward it, and then provide opportunities for them to earn more money.

And finally, season's greetings to everyone!

Make the celebratory days go well for the family:

 ● Get children and teens involved in the preparation of the meal and the clean-up. This will keep them a little on track and not starting to think the entire day is about their


 ● It is hard to be in a good mood and super pleasant with people for too long - which is why Christmas Day can end in arguments. Have a few breaks where some members can go and play a game of cricket, swim in the pool or even have a nap.

● Everyone can then come back refreshed and ready for company again.