Managing their expectations this Christmas

Whether you think it’s too early or not, the run up to Christmas is here. Decorations are up in shops. The John Lewis perennial was unleashed and the coke ad is back. It’s hard to ignore it all isn’t it?

Busy shopping street with Christmas lightsAny young people in your life are likely to have noticed too. Chances are they’re more excited than you.

Christmas can bring a lot of stress fro parents. Remember to look after yourself so you can enjoy it too. Expectation management can help the whole family.

Even if your son or daughter is young, it doesn’t mean they can’t understand we can’t have everything we want.

In fact, lessening expectations is something that might improve things for us all, younger and older.

Talk about it

Open communication about what’s possible might make things easier. What you say will depend on the circumstances and age of your son/daughter.

If they have a more realistic idea of things, they’re more likely to be reasonable in their expectations.

Focus on this Christmas

Rather than dwelling on Christmas past or what other people are doing or getting, try to steer the focus to what you’re doing this year.

As much as possible get your son or daughter (no-matter their age) involved in the whole process.

Planning, making, bargain-hunting, decorating etc. It might take more coordination, but it can  make everything more enjoyable for everyone.

If money is an issue

Money is always an issue at Christmas. Especially with presents for teenagers and young adults getting more expensive – what with phones, tablets video games being the gifts du jour.

Discuss and agree on a reasonable budget together. By getting them involved in the decision making process you might find they’re happier to have a scaled down Christmas.

Kris Kindle

This can remove some of the pressure and expense often associated with Christmas. It’s particularly good for managing extended family and groups of friends.

It might not work so well with younger children, but it’s something to consider.

It’s the thought that counts

It can sound trite, but gratitude is something we have to practise. Christmas can be a practical place to start.

Focus your son or daughter on the giving part of Christmas. Try to make the process of thinking what to make or buy more enjoyable. Talk about why they’re giving someone something – what do they appreciate in that person?


There’s lots of research which suggests the anticipation and planning of something is as enjoyable as the event itself. Focus on the experience and preparation and not simply the actual present can be part of the overall reward.

Of course your son or daughter will probably still think of material gifts too.

If they’re browsing the Argos catalogue, get them to think of one or two special things. Ask them to consider how they’ll use them over the next year, what will they get the most fun from?

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