Saying “no” (nicely) to children during the holiday season shopping frenzy

According to the preteen and teens in the family, Champs is the place for athletic shoes.  The kids were excited to see the celebrity-inspired styles. There were some in red, electric blue and black patent leather.  The eleven-year old said, “Isn’t this one awesome? Can I have that for my holiday present?” “Sure”, I said. I didn’t bother to look at the price because sneakers are sneakers, right?

However, we were in for an unhappy surprise. When the sale was processed, the amount was over $100.00.  What none of us realized was that the particular, jazzy model we selected, Reebok ZigSlash, sold for $99.00.  I was an unsuspecting shopper. I had no idea of the range of prices for such shoes.

screaming tantrum in storeIt wasn’t pleasant, but we had a talk and discussed life values, gifts, and prices. You could see this sweet child trying to stifle his disappointment. Even as a gift, the coveted shoes were out of the realm of possibility. It was stressful. I didn’t want to be the one to impose reality, but there wasn’t a choice.  We stopped the sale and discussed the situation during the ride home.

This experience raises the issue of what is a special gift and what is overindulgence? What role does culture play? How much is enough for your family? To what degree do we need to reframe our expectations and views of entitlements?

A new WEtv reality show ‘Downsized’ depicts the economic woes of a blended family with seven children. They describe their financial struggles and ways their value system has shifted as they rebuild their lives.

Distractions and stress triggered by holiday season may lessen our vigilance about aligning our values with our behavior. Does the money we spend on gifts reflect our values? Perhaps, even before entering a store, one can raise awareness by donating to a charity like the Salvation Army.

It was a good reminder that it is important to discuss values, money, and gift giving before you hit the stores with the grandchildren, just as I did with their parents before them.

About Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.

Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. is principal of Managing Your Mind Coaching and Seminars and is author of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Increasing Productivity and Decreasing Stress. She is co author of Finding Your Focus: Practical Strategies for the Everyday Challenges Facing Adults with ADD and Helping Adolescents with ADD and/or Learning Disabilities. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Markel served as faculty in the School of Education. She coaches adults and adolescents with ADD and/or learning disabilities and specializes in working with independent professionals, writers, and graduate students.
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