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How To Manage Childrens’ Holiday Gift Expectations

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to a study by the American Research Group, Americans will spend an average of $854 in holiday gifts.

And American parents plan to spend, on average, $271 per child.

The numbers are significantly higher than last year, and a child psychologist says while you may blame your children, it’s really the parents who need to manage these expectations.

The expert says not only is it OK to say no, it may even bring you closer to your children.

From iPhones, to the latest iPad, to designer jeans, gone are the days when a big, red ball was the sole item on the letter to Santa.

“I don’t think children have a concept of money, or what it costs to get these gifts,” said Twin Cities psychologist Brenda Schaeffer.

Schaeffer says as the top gifts get more expensive, children get further away from understanding the value of a dollar.

This is where parents come in.

“The parents are leading the way, they are teaching the children, and I think we’ve gotten away from the mystery and magic of Christmas,” she said.

Giving your kids several options — some of them inexpensive — and then surprising them with only some of the gifts will not only lower expectations, but even put some of the mystery back in Christmas.

Before you figure out exactly what, or how many presents to give your child, Schaeffer says here’s something to consider: How many gifts they are going to be receiving from extended family members and friends?

“I think it’s really important to not overload children with toys, and to coordinate what you’re giving,” Schaeffer said.

And remember, you can always say no. Much like the Grinch who stole Christmas ultimately learned.

“He decided that maybe just perhaps, Christmas isn’t in a store,” Schaeffer said. “Perhaps, it’s a little bit more.”

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