Nightmares Before Christmas: Avoiding Holiday Tantrums

The Gimmes

Your child usually begs you to buy her stuff when you go shopping, but now that the holiday season is here, her cries of "I want that!" have officially become a mantra.

Prevention pointers: Before you set foot in the store, explain why you're going there and give her a task to get her mind off toys, says Dr. Panaccione. For example: "I'm so glad you're coming with me because I need your help. I'm looking for a present for Grandma -- what do you think we should get her?" If your kid asks if you can stop by the toy store too, jokingly remind her that today's shopping trip is all about Grandma ("I don't think Grandma wants a tricycle or Legos for Christmas, do you?").

Fast fix: End the pleas by acknowledging her request without making any promises, says Betsy Brown Braun, author of Just Tell Me What to Say. Try: "That would be really cool, wouldn't it? Let's put it on your wish list, and maybe you'll get it from Santa, or from Aunt Emily for your birthday." Just knowing that she might get the toy someday will help your child calm down. Try not to get annoyed or lecture her about greediness. "Don't treat this like a discipline issue," says Braun. "It's perfectly normal and natural for children to want things." And that's especially true now -- what kid can tune out all those holiday toy ads?

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