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The importance of teaching Wants vs Needs.

That magical time of year is almost here and as much joy and wonder that it may bring to our children, it also means the start of a spending frenzy and sometimes a completely overindulgent time of the year for many kids. 
All over Bangkok you will see stressed parents trying to find the perfect gift, dashing around like a very harassed Mrs. Claus ticking off their child’s wish list, which grows ever more ambitious as the years progress. If you set yourself a precedent with piles of gifts each year, how does that exactly translate when the pile diminishes and the latest iPhone box is the size of a box of chocolates but with a much heftier price tag!

Stop the unnecessary spending.

For those wanting to stop the unnecessary spending over the festive period, the latest trend is the “four-gift rule” that is saving parents both time and money and can be dressed up in any manner of exciting packages.

Rather than filling up Santa sacks and having masses of presents stacked up under your Christmas tree, (only for your kids to lose interest by the 10th present) parents are advocating purchasing just four gifts. Do they really need to get EVERYTHING on their wish list? Do they even expect it or is it just parents trying to be the perfect elf without realizing that we are giving our kids such high expectations and not helping them to understand one of life’s necessary rules, that we don’t always get everything we want!

As this idea is becoming more and more popular it opens up many opportunities to discuss ‘wants vs needs’ with your children. It also encourages parents to look at spending more time, to make cherished memories, rather than spending unnecessary amounts of money.

The four present rule is becoming a game-changer where parents buy their children just 4 gifts that fit into each of these categories

  • Something they want.
    Either from their letter to Santa or wish list.
  • Something they need.
    Maybe a new bag or headphones a set of homemade tickets for movies throughout the year.
  • Something they wear.
    A new party dress or football boots or for teens a gift voucher to their favorite store.
  • Something they read!
    This one is endless and preferably in hard copy.

As well as saving parents time and money, the four gift rule is also more sustainable, considering most of the presents will likely end up being stuffed in the forgotten toy cupboards or wardrobes within a few weeks after Christmas anyway.

Don’t worry it doesn’t mean your The Grinch!

Does that mean your a Grinch or a bad parent, does that mean your taking the joy out of Christmas? This obviously has to be an individual choice and decision but overwhelming research indicates it’s the time and special memories that are created at this time of year that are embedded in children’s minds, long after the latest Disney toy or Xbox game has been forgotten.

Misha Mody, founder of NeeNoo advises
“Whilst no mum or dad wants to be named Scrooge, children really don’t need overwhelming amounts of toys. In a time when most parents are concerned about consumerism and the impact of waste, it makes sense to extend this to our Christmas purchasing behaviour.”

“The new four gift rule will look after all elements that is important for a child; play, practicality, physical care and psyche. It allows parents to spend a little bit more time thinking about the suitability of each gift, and perhaps even invest more than normal on these items to buy four, really meaningful gifts.”

The best gifts are Christmas memories.

With our children growing up in a world full of ‘instant gratification’ showing them how to appreciate the true value of any gift is vital and that sometimes gifts don’t have to have a monetary value added to them. 

When we as parents model the value of giving and make time to spend with our children, rather than just spending money this encourages them to do the same and also helps them to appreciate the very act of giving.

Growing up as a child I still remember those special moments my mother would spend with me in the days leading up to Christmas, baking, decorating and wrapping or curled up by the fire watching movies. I cannot recall many of the gifts I received but I cherish those memories of ordinary everyday events.

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