Archive for the ‘Christmas — children’ Category

An ad for a three-story doll house jumped off the page at me as I looked for little girls’ Christmas gifts. I thought, “Oh, I would have loved having one of those.” What power toy ads have to sell while bringing back memories.

Advertisers know how to maximize that selling power with children. They produce appealing ads for children and place them where children see them, including on TV and Web sites, and in catalogs and direct mail.

Therein lies a big problem.

At least, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sees it that way. Over 1,440 of its members and supporters lobbied 24 major toy makers and retailers asking them to stop targeting children with their ads.

The group’s Web site says it is “never fair” for corporations to market directly to children but that parents should be targeted instead. The Web site also says that while parents worry about making ends meet, it is “especially cruel to bombard children with ads for expensive toys and electronics.”

Yes, children are bombarded. However, generations of children have fond memories, made even during financially difficult times, of dreaming while flipping through thick Christmas toy catalogs.

After TV and Christmas specials became common, so did TV toy ads. Now, the list of ways ads reach children seems almost as endless as the number of toys being sold.

Children yearn and dream but don’t need to receive every toy in their dreams. The real problem is most children are not being taught the skill of choosing. When most children see 10 toys, they want all 10. They cannot rank three top choices nor select one favorite.

I talked recently with Dr. Elia Gourgouris. He is a nationally-known speaker, author and relationship expert and a Superior trustee.

Gourgouris said I was correct in stating children are not being taught to prioritize. He added we live in a society where wants are confused with needs, and parents have the responsibility to teach their children the differences.

A second problem is too many parents equate giving lots of presents with giving lots of love. Gourgouris called this way of thinking a “shortcut” because he said good parenting is spending time with your child, resolving issues, talking and explaining why you can’t afford the child’s top 10.

“Honestly, when kids grow up, they don’t remember the toys,” Gourgouris said. “What they remember is the times they spent quality time with their parents. Gifts break. They lose them. They break even within the same day they receive them.”

A third problem the CFCC members neglect with their effort is that too many parents don’t like to say “no” to their children.

I find it surprising parents don’t naturally teach their children to make choices. It would be an easy out to ask their children to rank their choices. When times are tough financially like today’s recession, this skill could help children ward off disappointments.

Gourgouris pointed out, “The right thing to do is to teach kids that ‘no’ is okay, and you can do it with love. You don’t have to get mad at them.”

I agree and see no other way. Life isn’t sustainable when children have the expectation that whatever they want, they instantly get.

As I think about Christmas and other holidays this time of year, I realize children need more dreaming and choosing. They also need spending quality time with their parents who dare to maintain boundaries by saying in a loving way when necessary, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Source: Daily Camera Dec. 14, 2008, under “A child’s Christmas”

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