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How much is too much for the holidays?

The idea of a magical holiday season often creates a culture of overindulgence. It leaves us exhausted and our children unsatisfied.

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- We want to make the holiday season special and memorable for our family. But oftentimes, this idea of a magical holiday season creates a culture of overindulgence. It leaves us exhausted and our children unsatisfied.

CHKD parenting expert Sam Fabian offers these tips:

Tip 1: What is overindulgence, and how do we know we are doing it?
Too much - Overindulgence is giving too many things- too many toys, clothes, activities. We know we are doing it when a child begins to have a sense of entitlement and lacks appreciation or respect for the things they have. For example, grandma and grandpa come to visit and the child runs to greet them saying, "What did you bring me?"

We also know it is too much if it strains the family resources, is a toy or game that is too advanced for the child's age, or meets the parents need rather than the child's need. For example, a parent who feels guilty for working overtime buys their child all the latest games.

Tip 2: How can we STOP overindulging?
Focus on the long-term values we want to instill in our children like service, compassion, and generosity.

  • Have them contribute to preparing for the holidays: make cookies, decorate the house, clean their room for when company comes, set the table.
  • Spend time together without technology: go for a nature walk, check out the holiday lights in the neighborhood, drink egg-nog and play a board game.
  • While they are making their own holiday list, have them pick a toy that they have outgrown and donate it to a child in need.
  • Get a group together and send cards to nursing home residents or find a time to visit and sing carols.
  • Write letters of appreciation to friends and family members and let them know you care.
  • As a family, write cards or notes of appreciation to those enlisted in the military.
  • Invite someone who is spending the holiday alone to join the family (military member, elderly neighbor, or church member).
  • Do random acts of kindness for family members or neighbors. Start a friendly competition with your kids, who can do the most acts of kindness in a week? (e.g. shovel a driveway, bring in the trash-bins, leave a love note in a lunch-box or under a pillow, do dishes when it's not your turn.)
  • After the holidays write thank you notes for gifts received.

If you’d like to learn more about avoiding the overindulgence trap, CHKD is holding a parent workshop on December 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the CHKD Health Center at Landstown.

Register at www.chkd.org/classes or call 757-668-9304.