How parents can say 'no' to holiday overload

- There is nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up because of the perfect present.

But if you really want to give your child a gift, WebMD medical editor, pediatrician and mother of two Dr. Hansa Bhargava says say no to overdoing it at the holidays.

Dr. Bhargava says it's okay, and it's actually a good thing, to say no to your child.

"Parents often feel guilty,” Dr. Bhargava says.  “I think all of us parents want to do all we can for our children. But we have to let our children get the word "no" sometimes, and be disappointed.  Why? Because that is an essential life tool to know that sometimes you are not going to get what you want."

If you have a gift budget, Bhargava says, stick to it, because you're teaching kids how to prioritize.

“So, this is a great learning opportunity over the holidays,  to actually go over that list and ask your child, 'Is this something you really need, or is this something you want?'" Bhargava says.

And if you're trying to scale back, but grandparents or relatives aren't helping, try talking to them about not overdoing it with the gifts.

That doesn’t always work, she acknowledges.

“The other way to handle is to talk to your children and say, 'Hey, you're going to get a lot of toys. Decide if you need all of them. Because it would be great if you could pick one of those toys you get and give it to a child who may not get toys,'" Dr. Bhargava suggests.

Volunteering is another way to foster compassion in children as young as 4 and 5. 

Studies show adults who regularly volunteer are happier.

Bhargava says you can sponsor another child for the holidays, donate to your local food bank, or collect supplies for an animal shelter.

But, Bhargava says, it might take time for children to get the message that giving, not getting, is what it's all about.

"So take every holiday season and try to do something, whether it's volunteering at a shelter, or choosing a gift, or prioritizing the holiday list, it will be helpful to your child in the end."

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