Christmas are here once again and kids, at least in rich countries, are anxious to open the first box under the tree, check the gift and then move to the next one. Actually a research by the consulting firm TNS, discovered children’s gifts are the most important chapter in this season expenses: 80% of the kids will receive five or more toys.

However, this consumer trend that seems to have been established in recent decades, is not beneficial for children. In fact, giving too many gifts to them can become harmful.
In recent times a very dangerous trend has been seen for the emotional development of children. The problem starts when parents try to compensate with toys the few times they actually play or simply stay with them. That creates an emotional anesthesia in the child and he becomes capricious, selfish and consumerist; suddenly, the number and price of his gifts is important and he shows these toys as measure of his success. In fact, a high number of gifts (more quantity than quality) reveals a lack of knowledge on the real needs of the children. Toys are importan in the growing personality of a child but they have a precise function (have fun and learn about themselves and the people aoround) and never can be a substitute of the love and attention of their parents.

An excess of toys causes in children:

  • Overstimulation. When children receive many gifts, they do not enjoy any of them, or they prefer the gift they like most, forgetting the rest. Excessive stimulation simply surpasses them, so many of those gifts will end up lying in a corner. When the child receives more toys than they are able to play with, he can not concentrate on each one, so he does not get the most out of them.
  • Low level of tolerance to frustration. Parents who give their children everything they want, without explaining the sacrifice behind each gift, help to generate an egocentric attitude, so that children do not learn to deal with setbacks and frustration, an essential capacity for life.
  • Lethargy of fantasy. The excess of toys ends up causing boredom and kills the fantasy. In fact, although children need toys to develop both their motor and cognitive abilities, we can not forget that they can also play without toys, and it is precisely in those moments, when there is no pre-established script, when the more creativity is developed.

The rule of the four gifts

Kids should not receive more than four gifts. It means, of course, not four toys but:

  • A gift he can wear, such as clothing, shoes or similar accessories.
  • A gift related to reading, whether a book, stationery or an e-reader.
  • A gift that he wants very much, aimed at nurturing the illusion.
  • A gift of any kind he really needs, like sporting materials, a backpack or a funny lamp for the bedroom.

Try this exercise: take a look on these gifts for a 7 year old girl and select only three of them (there’s no clothes on that list) and you will realize how hard is to accomplish the rule.