When is enough, enough? Planning for holidays
LOGAN — It is a well-known fact that it is easy to get a little carried away with “decking the halls,” and the concepts of excess, over indulgence and over scheduling come to mind during the holiday season more than ever. In general, however, there is a trend toward excess in personal lives.
What messages are people sending to their children? When is enough, enough for them, and for everyone else?
Here is a checklist of questions to ask oneself:
• Is a disproportionate amount of family income being spent on any one category…i.e., clothing, entertainment, child enrichment (lessons, sports, etc.)?
• Is a disproportionate amount of time and energy being spent on one or two activities? Sports, screen time, cell phones, social media?
William Doherty, in his book, The Intentional Family, warns that many families are over scheduled outside the family and under scheduled inside the family.
• As a parent, is a child being kept from learning age-appropriate developmental tasks because a parent is doing things for them, or taking care of things for them that the child should be learning to do themselves?
Examples include: picking up their own toys, doing their own laundry, paying for some things with their own money, learning to cook, etc.)
A few signs of over indulgence include: trouble learning to delay gratification; trouble giving up being the center of attention; trouble being competent in everyday life skills, including self-care and relationship skills; trouble taking personal responsibility – feeling like it’s always someone else’s fault; and trouble knowing what is normal.
As a result of over indulgence, children have come to regard overload as normal, and anything less is boring. In contrast to this is a term coming to the forefront called “creative deprivation.” Parents are coming to understand that kids can have too much of a good thing, so they place limitations on it.
An example from an article in “The Tightwad Gazette” outlines this concept nicely. On a recent trip to the mall, children ordered junior ice cream cones and consumed them in complete silence, savoring every bite.
Many parents, seeing their children appreciate junior cones, may start buying them cones on every trip to the mall. Then, seeing their kids’ enthusiasm waning, would assume they must “wow” them with banana splits.
When the banana splits no longer produce the desired effect, the parent would move up to the jumbo deluxe sundaes, and on and on, until the kids become impossible to please.
When there is diminished appreciation, it is a sign that children have had too much of something. Instead of moving up to the banana splits, parents need to, instead, decrease the frequency of the junior cone.
People may discover they have habituated a certain level of expectation without appreciation. Another example of this is how frequently people go out to eat. It may no longer be a treat, but a norm.
Here are four rules of creative deprivation to consider while moving into the holiday season:
1. Limit things the children don’t need, but do not limit the things they do need, such as good nutrition and parental attention.
2. Provide children with creative alternatives to substitute for passive entertainment and “no brainer” play.
3. Limit screen time, including cell phones, TV/video time and gaming. This will decrease the stimulation overload in a child’s life.
4. Set boundaries, and provide rules and limits in all aspects of a child’s life.
Maybe it is time for everyone to take a step back and evaluate their own lives. Ask oneself, do I increasingly need more expensive gadgets, clothing, vacations, foods or other stimulating events to keep me happy?
Creative deprivation may be just the ticket. Not only will it save money, but the simplification will also reduce stress levels and increase quality of life.