Gifting Expectations Around the Holidays

My daughter found a target magazine with hundreds of toys, and she circled tons of things that she wanted, starred her favorites, and what her brother would want. She may not even know what everything is, but she sees it and wants it.

Around this time of year, how we manage the expectations of our children and other relationships are so important. We must prioritize what we value. This is a perfect time to teach our kids to be excited for other kids who might get more than they received and reinforce all your own family can be thankful for.

Kids will have a long list of what they want and probably won’t receive all of it. Help kids understand that they can say what they would like to have, but ultimately the relationship in which they are receiving the gift is more important than what they actually receive. What is important is that we are gathered, enjoying each other instead of focusing on the physical aspect of a gift.

Sometimes we can’t give gifts or take trips to visit family. While times are difficult for so many families, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Homemade gifts are the ones that are treasured most. There is no shame in giving homemade gifts. Take time to put thought into something meaningful for friends, family, and kids. 
  • Be comfortable and confident with who you are, what you can afford, and have time for. If you can’t afford to buy gifts or visit family, try to call family to still spend quality time with them, mail them a card, or a small gift. 
  • Don’t compare your situation to others. Horses have blinders put on because they get distracted by what is around them. Put blinders on and only focus on what impacts your direct household. Instead of seeing what friends and family and others on social media are doing, focus on your family’s values and relationships. 

Deep down, we all want time with those we love. Try to minimize the pressure of expectations by remembering what is important to you.

By: A. Johanna Lu, MD, ABPN
Psychiatrist, Co-Founder and Medical Director

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