CHRISTMAS MORNING IS IN A PAST DISTANCE. YOU STILL REMEMBER HOW YOUR KIDS STORMED INTO YOUR ROOM TO WAKE YOU UP SO THAT THEY CAN GO SEE WHAT SANTA LEFT THEM. YOU WERE GROGGY BUT THEIR EXCITEMENT GETS YOU GOING SOONER THAN YOU EXPECTED. YOU GO CHECK AND SEE IF SANTA LEFT EVERYTHING IN ORDER, AND THEN CALL FOR THEM TO COME AND SEE WHAT HE BROUGHT THEM!
The kids have a blast opening the Christmas presents, they tear open box after box, and their faces light up with each present. They play with all their new toys and gadgets, and you’re a happy parent. Then you notice that the presents are no longer interesting 5 days later. They’re thrown to one side and the kids are off doing what kids do. What do you do when Santa’s presents lose their charm the moment they’ve been unboxed?
First of all, it’s important to know that you’re not a terrible parent, your gifts were amazing, and that the kids losing interest in a present 5 minutes after they’ve opened it is completely normal — yes, it happens to us all. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t like your presents, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed at Christmas.
Let’s look at this from a kid’s perspective, and we might be able to understand it a bit more (and not take it to heart as much!). The kids have been waiting for Christmas morning for an entire month, and they’ve been wishing and hoping that everything they asked Santa for will be under the tree. The time finally comes for them to open the presents, and they rip everything open, taking their time to see and appreciate each gift. By this time, they’re pretty overwhelmed with everything that’s going on, and the sheer emotional rollercoaster that is Christmas morning.
So once all the presents are open, the kids gravitate towards what they feel like playing with at that moment, so they do. That does, however, leave the rest of the presents in a disorganized pile under the tree looking like they made no difference whatsoever to them. But this is not the case! They simply want to play with one at a time, and they know they have a whole pile of new things they get to enjoy from today on.
But how are you supposed to react to this? Many parents (me included, most of the time) tend to take this whole ordeal to heart, and their initial reaction tends to lean towards feeling angry and unappreciated, which normally comes out in the form of lecturing or scolding the kids for not appreciating what they got, etc. Is this the best way to go about it? I think we all know it’s not. So what can we do about it?
How to React When Kids “Don’t Like Their Presents”
One of the best ways to go about this not-so-great situation is by trying to understand the concept of Christmas and Christmas gifts, and what that means for you as a parent. Remember the reason you did all of this in the first place:you wanted to make your children as happy as they could possibly be on Christmas morning, and you wanted them to get the toys they wanted all year long. You wanted to see their faces light up, and you wanted to see their excitement at opening their gifts!
Think about when they were opening their presents, think about their faces and what they felt like when they saw the gift and realized that they got exactly what they wanted. You did an amazing job. You achieved exactly what you did this all for. You were successful! They got what they wanted thanks to your hard work and your care for them. You did an amazing job.
This doesn’t change the fact that they still seem to have lost interest in their presents, does it? Well, in part it doesn’t and in part it does. They got the gratification of getting exactly what they wanted, and you get the pleasure of having done that for them. You know they will use that present for as long as they can, and you know that they were so happy they got what they wanted this Christmas. They feel loved. The fact that they seem uninterested after opening the present and looking at it and all that is probably a sign of being a bit overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean they didn’t absolutely love it.
A great way to deal with this is by taking a deep breath and accepting that that’s how it will probably go. So when you’re buying the presents and wrapping them and hoping they love them, try to remember that this might not go exactly how you think it will, and this might help you cope when you’re actually watching it happen. Focus on their initial reaction and remember that they’re over the moon with their presents, regardless of what that might look like.
Another way to go about this is by focusing more on fewer presents that will have more value for your kids instead of a whole bunch of presents that might overwhelm them more. This will give them fewer things to focus on, and it will allow them to truly absorb each and every gift they receive. No, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t shower them with love in the form of presents, I’m just suggesting that they might have an easier time focusing on the gifts you give if there are fewer, more emotionally valuable gifts.
Also, keep in mind that the kids think it was Santa’s doing, and it can potentially become much more impersonal than if they knew that you were the one who did all the hard work to give them their presents. This means that 1) they might feel less inclined towards giving a huge reaction and 2) if they knew it was you who did all of this for them, and all the work that went into the gifts, they would be over the moon with happiness and gratitude.
So don’t react in anger. Don’t think “Oh gosh, my kids don’t like their presents”. Don’t take it to heart when the kids seem like they don’t like their Christmas presents. Try not to yell at them or lecture them on how “ungrateful” they’re being. Try to take each reaction with a grain of salt, and with the fact that you know that they loved each and every present more than ever in mind.
The bottom line is that they don’t hate their presents. All your hard work paid off. You did an amazing job this Christmas, whether the kids reacted the way you thought they would or not. And most importantly, they know you love them, and they know that they are the luckiest kids in the world to have your love and to have gotten the things they asked for this Christmas.