It’s Santa’s job to know what’s best

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Randy Cale

Okay, lets face it. Most children get too much stuff this day and time. Well, can I re­ally say it’s too much? Maybe not… but we can know one thing for cer­tain:

The more stuff they get…the less they seem to ap­pre­ci­ate it.

Just no­tice for your­self. Most of us didn’t have 1/10th the num­ber of toys, and gad­gets and good­ies that our children have. We cer­tainly didn’t’ have 1/10th of the num­ber of en­ter­tain­ment op­tions.

If there was any data to ar­gue that kids hav­ing more and more stuff made them hap­pier and hap­pier, I would be the first to jump up and down and point to it. But it doesn’t ex­ist for kids…and it doesn’t’ ex­ist for adults. In fact, the more that we ac­cu­mu­late more stuff, more toys and more en­ter­tain­ment, the less we seem to value it. So, the more, more…more…for­mula pro­duces a cul­ture where we value it less and less.

So, as the Hol­i­day sea­son ap­proaches, con­sider how you can sep­a­rate your fam­ily from the more, more, more for­mula and nur­ture val­ues that you re­ally care about. Here are a few sim­ple ideas, that can help you keep your feet on the ground and teach val­ues that are re­ally go­ing to serve hap­pi­ness and sat­is­fac­tion. Set lim­its on their ex­pec­ta­tions.

As the hol­i­day sea­son rolls around, it is help­ful to set lim­its on your children’s ex­pec­ta­tions. More and more, I see par­ents try­ing to ful­fill a list with 15 items of what their kids want for Christ­mas. Out of fear of dis­ap­point­ment, or a de­sire to please, they go on a search to find ev­ery item, lev­er­ag­ing their credit cards well be­yond their com­fort zone.

Stop this mad­ness, by con­trol­ling your kid’s ex­pec­ta­tions. For young children, you can prob­a­bly do this best by telling them that Santa will only con­sider three toys or five toys or some num­ber that seems rea­son­able to you.

For older children or ado­les­cents, you can sim­ply tell them that you won’t con­sider more than five items on their list.

Santa knows what’s best for you.

For younger kids, as Christ­mas ap­proaches, and you’ve made your choices, you can now con­tinue to man­age their ex­pec­ta­tions. I like to give kids the mes­sage that “It’s Santa’s job to know what’s best for you.” Ex­plain that Santa is prob­a­bly go­ing to pick three toys that he feels you re­ally need, and that will be it.

For older kids, who refuse to work down their list to the es­sen­tials, let them know that Mom and Dad know what’s best. And if they can’t be se­lec­tive, you’ll be mak­ing the choice about what is best for them. If you daugh­ter is caught on de­signer boots that cost $400 bucks, I would be cau­tious about feed­ing this ten­dency…even if you have the means. Why? Be­cause ex­pec­ta­tions get set on a level of ap­parel that she can­not sus­tain her­self, at least for sev­eral years! And fi­nally, just re­mem­ber…

Give them more. They ap­pre­ci­ate it less. It’s the law.

You don’t have to trust me on this one. Just open your eyes and no­tice what you see. The more that our lives be­comes fo­cused on the “stuff” of our lives, the more that the “stuff” takes on the roles of fill­ing our ad­dic­tions. Kids get ad­dicted to im­me­di­ate stim­u­la­tion. Kids get ad­dicted to lim­it­less en­ter­tain­ment. Kids get ad­dicted to pas­sively ab­sorb­ing stim­u­la­tion, rather than be­ing ac­tively en­gaged.

How does this work in our brain? Well, we don’t know for sure, but it ap­pears to be some­thing like this. We get a new toy. We are en­ter­tained and en­gaged by it. Our brains, how­ever, ac­com­mo­date rapidly. That is part of the magic of the hu­man brain. Ac­com­mo­da­tion brings with it a rapid sense of bore­dom and we move onto the next item. This is also why video games, so­cial me­dia and end­less en­ter­tain­ment on­line is so ad­dic­tive to children (and adults).

Con­sider the less is more ap­proach. This al­lows for find­ing ‘more’ from what we al­ready have. In this, lies the se­cret for hap­pi­ness whether Hol­i­days or any time of the year.

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