So you’ve budgeted carefully all year to splash out on the truckload of presents your children want for Christmas.
Don’t you get a sinking feeling when parting with all that hard-earned cash when most of last year’s presents didn’t even make it through to Easter?
If the answer to that is a resounding yes then you need to teach your child how to take care of their possessions and appreciate the value of what they have.
Teaching your child to count their blessings need not be as hokey as it seems.
If they are old enough to count, teach them the value of money. Make a game of it and have them rank their favourite group of toys in order of expense. Then, have your child rank them in terms of cost. It may be that the monetary value in no way reflects how much the child values it. Talk to your child about why they think that is.
Give them paid chores
Learning how to appreciate their possessions is easier to do if they know how much they cost.
‘For a lot of young children it’s a case of ‘easy come, easy go,’ says Pastor Charles Boucher of First Assembly of God on Old Crewe Road.
‘A lot of parents spoil the kids and rarely say no. Expensive sports trainers, though desirable, are non-essentials. Make your child mow the lawn or clean your car to earn their treats. That way they’ll appreciate and look after them more.’
Spread the goodness
Part of the reason so many children neglect their possessions is because they have too way too many of them.
Put an hour or two aside during the day to divide their possessions into a ‘keep’ and ‘give away’ pile. Teddies and other plushies to be given away should be washed.
Let your child accompany you to the Red Cross charity shop or the Cayman Islands Humane Society’s Claws It thrift store. Explain to them that their former toys and clothes get bought by another child, who will get to enjoy them and the charity will get money with which to help others.
Spread your possessions around. Contact the Department of Children and Family Services or your local church. Many organisations within the community take in second hand toys and clothing for distribution throughout the year.
Learning from the past
Encourage your child to speak to a grandparent, elderly aunt or other senior about their childhoods. A relaxed chat about the little they had and how they treasured even the most simple of possessions will probably make your child value what they have and have taken for granted.
When you realise that your child has become bored or has grown out of something that he or she owns get rid of it by either giving to a friend or swapping it like old DVDs with a child who has old films to exchange. Social networking sites or school notice boards are a great way of finding children to swap with locally.
Adopt a charity
There are plenty of local charities or worthy causes that you and your child can get involved with.
First Assembly of God runs Operation Joy which distributes to people in need each Wednesday, regardless of the faith of recipients.
And finally, encourage your child to send out thank-you notes, emails or if their very small a picture to friends and family who send them gifts.