Taming Kids’ Wish List Expectations (Like Cattle Prods and Tasers)

Kids have big expectations when it comes to holiday gifts. I know, that’s a huge understatement. Many don’t know, or don’t care, that times are tougher. And to a certain extent they shouldn’t, because, after all, they’re just kids. So how do you teach kids to have more realistic expectations about the holidays? More on that in a moment.

“I want a cattle prod and taser for Christmas”

My son's holiday wish list

A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son textme his wish list (he also put it up on the fridge). It gave me a good laugh, not just for how much it would cost to fulfill his wishes, but some of the things he wants. In case you can’t read his writing, here’s what he’s asking for:

  • TV
  • Van shoes (tan or black)
  • Black Nike hoodie
  • Nike sweats
  • New fish
  • Cattle prod
  • Tazer
  • Gas money
  • Nike Dry-fit shorts with pockets
  • Football ring
  • Viper key and alarm system

The cattle prod and taser stunned my wife and I. That about threw us over the edge. What in the world would he use those for? The only thing we can guess is on his friends, his brothers, or even more frightening… his parents. He loves to play pranks. You can scratch those two off the list.

The football ring is his high school football team’s state championship ring. It made the list just days after the team won its fourth straight title. Last year, the coach forbid the freshmen players from getting one, because they might not work so hard to win another one. (Thank you, thank you, thank you. They aren’t cheap.) No excuses to scratch it off the list this year.

The other gifts on the list aren’t so bad. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to get them (in case he reads this), and most certainly he won’t get all of them.

Reasonable expectations start at a young age

So with a sluggish economy and millions of Americans out of work, how should parents deal with their kids’ extravagant holiday wishes? Licensed clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka told CNN that parents should talk about the tough economy — and how it might impact Santa too.“Parents have a lot of influence on helping children not be excessive consumers,” she says, “And that’s starting from a very young age, so setting reasonable expectations is very important.”

Bufka suggests not to treat Santa just as a guy who put presents under the tree. But instead, as a symbol of the season — of giving, and of generosity. “The whole idea of Santa is about generosity and parents can use that to talk about generosity within the family… and they can use that to talk about Santa giving things that are gifts, and what gifts truly are, instead of fulfilling every single desire, whether you really want it or not.”  

She also says it’s an opportunity to instill compassion in kids, to be grateful for what they do receive, instead of focusing on what they don’t. That’s a lesson kids need to learn at an early age, because none of us, young or old, always get the “cattle prods and tasers” on our wish lists. What a shocker!

3 Comments on “Taming Kids’ Wish List Expectations (Like Cattle Prods and Tasers)

  1. I’m amazed that it would take a college educated “licensed clinical psychologist” to come up with such ‘profound’ advice that any wise parent coming out of the Great Depression could tell today’s parents “for free”. Perhaps there aren’t many wise parents anymore —- whose kids are now caught up with outrageous and expensive “toys”, and who haven’t been brought directly into the family discussion table about finances and hard times. Kids NEED to know that money doesn’t grow on trees before they become adults and parents themselves. Hang tough!

  2. Pingback: 2011: My Look Back « JustMyPOV

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