These days come full of hopeful anticipation, of joy and also of presents. The little ones at home ask for absolutely everything they see in toy adverts and for the older ones, to make them happy, we tend to exceed in the number of gifts. The Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Juguetes (The Spanish Toy Manufacturer Association) (AEFJ) tells us that the average number (in Spanish) of toys a child receives over these days is 7, to which must be added other types of gifts. The problem is that when receiving so many gifts the child ends up not valuing what they have. How can we make the day of the Kings a magical day without falling into excesses?
There is an unhelpful trend for the emotional development of children, which has been given the name of “Spoiled Child Syndrome”. This refers to the attempt of some parents to compensate for the little time spent with their children with gifts. The problem is that because of this excess, children enter into an “emotional anaesthesia” and, as a result, do not value what they receive.
This, however, would be an extreme case, which reveals a lack of knowledge from the parents of the needs of their children.
Of course toys and gifts are important in a child’s life. But they have a specific function and cannot in any way replace the care and affection that we give them as parents.
The best toy is not necessarily the most expensive or the biggest. It is important to choose the right toys and gifts (in Spanish), adapted to their age, to help develop and stimulate their imagination. A good example is board games, because they teach them to respect rules, to share and interact and above all to win, or lose, which means learning to tolerate frustration.
Experts recommend that parents focus more on quality than on the quantity of toys. To achieve this, families must agree, both on what and how much is given. For younger children who still “do not know”, we can save some gift for a later date that, for example, could serve to reward their behaviour.
So, it is not a question of children giving up gifts, but of getting fewer and more spaced out so they can enjoy them for as long as possible.
A good idea is to follow the rule of 4 gifts:
- A practical gift, such as clothes for sports, shoes or accessories. This is especially recommended for teens. You can surprise them with tickets for a concert, a musical, or for a match of their favourite team.
- An educational gift: puzzles, globes, games of scientific experiments or about nature, etc. And of course, books, whether they are paper or electronic books.
- A gift that they want very much, aimed at nurturing the excitement. Here most of the gifts that they ask for in the letter to the kings: soft toys, toys, strollers, games, videogames, etc.
- A gift of any nature, they really need. It can be a costume that they will need for carnival, or a box of colours or paints that will be great for their art class or some new skates for their after school activity.
Also take advantage to encourage their altruism and solidarity and urge them to ask for other people. For their siblings, for their grandmother or for the most disadvantaged children, who are not so lucky. The point is not to ask only for himself and also to think about others.
Finally, plan family leisure activities such as going to the zoo, the theatre or taking a trip together. The time that we parents dedicate to our children is the best gift we can give them.
Sources and further information:
Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Juguetes (AEFJ)