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Tips for ID Parents: Keeping the “Gimmie” Monster Under Control

November 29, 2010

BOISE, Idaho - Visits to the toy aisle this time of year can be challenging for parents, as kids can turn into "gimmie" monsters during the countdown to Christmas. But it's also an opportunity to teach children about gratitude, according to Wickes MacColl, a teacher and grants manager with the Idaho Children's Trust Fund. She says it's a value most parents want their children to develop, and caregivers can help kids learn.

Her first tip: No matter the gift-giving event, keep the number of presents reasonable, because showering a child with lots of gifts makes it hard for him or her to focus on appreciation. She suggests also being mindful of allowing some time to pass between the moment of "wanting" an item and receiving it.

"When they get it, they feel that thankfulness, but it's very hard to feel thankfulness if everything at that moment you want, you get."

MacColl also advises looking for ways to be involved in community giving, starting when a child is a toddler. Collecting canned foods or warm clothes are good places to begin the habit.

"Some children naturally notice the values in others and have empathy. It's a special talent, like some kids are musical or mathematical. But the rest of the children we parent need some teaching and modeling."

Writing thank-you notes is another opportunity to discuss gratitude, she says, adding that parents need to consistently show appreciation when their children do thoughtful things for others.

The Idaho Children's Trust Fund is fostering projects throughout the state to prevent child abuse and neglect. More information is available at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID