Gift overload: why too many gifts can make children unhappy

Andrea Zschocher

Christmas is becoming a celebration of consumption in many families. It is not a question of giving a lot to the children. Much more important: little things that bring joy. Because beware: too many gifts have a negative impact on the psyche.

Christmas: The feast of love?

In the Christmas rush, next to the roast duck, the freshly decorated Christmas tree and the many glittering gifts, we parents sometimes forget that Christmas is a celebration of love and not that of consumption. The sad truth is that the real meaning is often lost- buried under a mountain of presents. In some places, Christmas is celebrated more as a festival of abundance and consumerism. This is not at all meaningful or necessary.

The motto: more is more does not apply at all, especially with children. Too many gifts overwhelm them and diminish the value of the individual. Even if every gift is well-intentioned and an expression of love, the shared celebration is often overshadowed by all the packages on Christmas Eve. And nobody really wants that.

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Gifts as a sign of appreciation: A big mistake

If your child receives a lot of presents, he is literally overwhelmed. So many packages! But the smaller the offspring, the more difficult it is to deal with the abundance of gifts. We know this from ourselves, too: When we have many tasks on the to-do list, we fall into a stupor and procrastinate. Our children feel the same way about gifts. The total overload of things overwhelms them and therefore nothing triggers more feelings in them.

The enthusiasm for Grandma Trude’s new racing car is quickly forgotten when racing car numbers two and three follow in the next parcels, as well as a whole racetrack from Grandpa Rudiger. The flood of gifts has the effect that nothing triggers emotions anymore. This is also called the loss of stimulus: the single gift no longer triggers joy or enthusiasm in the mass of people.

Small gifts: Ideas under 10 € für all ages

Small gifts: ideas under 10€ for all ages

Why you can harm your child with many gifts

Of course we want to show our child with the gifts that we love him and would like to fulfill his EVERY wish. But apart from the aforementioned loss of stimulus, there is a danger that the child’s vital appreciation by its parents will be linked to material things. The more he gets, the more he is loved it learns.

Developmental psychology shows why this is so: it is in the nature of man- especially very small people- Wanting to be loved. A child needs to know that he or she is wanted, welcome and loved unconditionally, just as much as he or she needs air to breathe. But if there is a deficit of needs, the brain tries to compensate for this deficit and gets the confirmation or appreciation elsewhere.

Gifts are appropriate joy impulses for the brain, which is programmed here that a material gift equals love. This works in a similar way as when we comfort ourselves with a new piece of clothing over a bad mood: It works for the moment, of course, but does not make us happy in the long term. The result is a child’s room full of wonderful toys and, in the middle of it all, a child who does not know, what it should do with itself.

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Sustainable gifts: Our tips

Gifts are part of Christmas- that is not a question. There is nothing more beautiful than shining children’s eyes, when the long-awaited toy is freed from the gift wrapping. The measure is crucial here and how sustainable a gift can make a child happy.

  • Üdon’t overwhelm your child with gifts, but maybe choose three things.
  • The smaller the child, the more the motto "less is more" applies.“
  • Toys that encourage children to be creative themselves are fun for a long time, z.B. Building blocks or craft sets
  • Give something that involves the whole family like z.B. Board games or a voucher for a joint family activity

Coordinate gifts for children with family

Talk to friends and relatives and determine what and how much may be given as a gift. With the many well-intentioned gifts from all corners of the relatives, you can make the suggestion to give the child specific wishes, which may be more expensive, together. This way, the joy is much greater than when you give ten times as many small gifts. And there is also much less garbage in the room afterwards. Because the gift fulfills a heart’s desire and will probably be played with much more intensively.

Christmas is much more than just giving presents. Cooking together, eating together, singing together, reading the Christmas story or simply being together with your loved ones – that’s what the feast of love should be about. Your child enjoys the time together and that is worth much more than any toy car or Barbie doll.

Time instead of stuff

Of course my three children have a lot of wishes. They express them over the year again and again and I write them down. The things that are always desired, with which knows it’s worth taking a closer look.

The gifts I buy are almost always 2. hand, so they have already had at least one* previous owner. For the children this was never a problem. What everyone is happy about: spending time together. That’s why we also give vouchers for various excursions and activities at Christmas. Because an afternoon in the tractor museum has a much longer lasting effect on us than a gift of embarrassment, because you can’t come up with anything real.

If you want to snuggle up together on the couch and watch a movie this Christmas: Watch the video for ten ideas on which movies are suitable for which age.

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