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Parenting/TODAY Moms Survey: Are Your Children Spoiled?

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It’s that time of year again, where we give good tidings, spread cheer—and watch our kids go bug-eyed over the prospect of major loot under the tree. As parents, we all want big smiles on Christmas morning, but do you have a sinking feeling that your kids are getting spoiled by the holiday spending? If so, you’re not alone.

Plus: Hilarious Christmas Morning Freak-Outs Caught on Tape!

Parenting and TODAY Moms surveyed more than 6,000 parents to find out how much they really spend at the holidays, if they feel guilty saying “no” to items on their kid’s wish list, what they do to give back, and more. The results were surprising, and indicate that while many families are struggling to make ends meet this year, kids still expect Santa to deliver.

The Spoiling Epidemic

Many parents admitted up that their kids do act spoiled, and the problem seems to be getting worse. A whopping 3 out of 4 parents admit their kids are less than grateful to some degree during the holidays, and 59% of respondents shared that their kids are more spoiled than they, the parents, were as kids.

“After opening all his Christmas presents, my son actually looked at me and my husband and asked, ‘Is that all?’  After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we had to explain that he needed to be happy with what he received because there were kids who didn't receive anything that day,” wrote one mom. “It made us realize he was getting extremely spoiled.”

This might have something to do with why many kids come down with a case of the “gimmes”: parents plan to spend an average of $271per child on gifts this year, with a surprising one in eight spending between $300 and $400. Despite the tough times, 74% will spend the same amount or more than last year.

Plus: iPad Tops Kids’ Wish List This Year

Making Their List

The reason parents drop so much cash on gifts: Many feel guilty if they don’t deliver on their child’s wish list. After all, Santa’s recession-proof, right? Almost 76% of respondents confessed to feeling guilty about saying no, with 18% saying they’d ideally like to be able to give their kids everything they ask for. 46% of parents also admitted they feel some amount of pressure to keep up with their neighbors’ holiday haul.

Plus: Toys of the Year, from Babies to Big Kids

While few parents will resort to snatching something from the hands of another parent in the toy aisle, most respondents say they would go a little bit out of their way to score the hot, hard-to-get gift without going crazy. Almost 44% will make multiple trips to the store to see if it’s back in stock, and almost 23% will visit multiple stores until they get their hands on it.

Saying Thanks

Thank-you notes are on their way out, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it. One quarter of parents never require kids to send thank-yous, and moms under 30 are almost twice as likely to let their kids skip thank-you notes than moms over 45.

Notes are one thing, but how about saying “thank-you” in person? Parents shared some cringe-inducing stories of kids openly showing disappointment over gifts from family and friends (our fave: the kid who showed his dissatisfaction by peeing on the carpet). The good news is that almost all the parents we surveyed would nip this behavior in the bud. If a child pitches a fit when Grandma gives him socks instead of a iPad, 98 percent say they’ll take some action – whether it’s making the child apologize (68%), reprimanding him (19%), or simply talking about it later on (8%).
Plus: 5 Ways to Raise Grateful Kids

Giving Back

There is heartening news among all this talk about greed and overspending. Almost 4 out of 5 families make an effort to something to counteract the commercialism of the holiday and teach kids the importance of giving back. 70% of parents donate gifts or money to those less fortunate, and 16% volunteer as a family. 36% of families also encourage kids to spend their own money on gifts for others.

Full Survey Results

 

Do you think your kids are spoiled during the holidays?

 

Yes. Our gift-giving has gotten out of control.

19.9%

A little.  We could definitely cut back.

56.2%

No. We set limits and stick to them.

23.9%

 

 

Do you ever feel guilty for saying no to something on your child’s wish list? 

 

Never. We’re the parents spending the  money, and they need to accept that.

24.1%

A little, but we openly discuss why some gifts aren’t possible.

57.7%

Yes. As parents we want to be able to give them everything.

18.2%

 

 

Compare how spoiled your kids are to how spoiled you were at their age.  Are they:   

 

More spoiled

59.0%

Less spoiled

10.8%

About the same

30.2%

 

 

What do you do to teach kids the importance of giving back during the holiday season?

 

Volunteer as a family

16.3%

Donate gifts and/or money to those less fortunate

70.2%

Other

16.5%

Not much

21.2%

 

 

Do you require your kids to send thank-you notes?  

 

Always

30.7%

Sometimes

41.7%

Never 

27.6%

 

 

Your child pitches a fit when Grandma gives him an unwanted gift. How do you handle this situation? 

 

Immediately apologize on your child’s behalf

3.5%

Make your child apologize for his behavior

67.8%

Reprimand/discipline the child

19.2%

Nothing in the moment, but we’ll sure be talking about it later

7.6%

Laugh it off…kids will be kids

1.8%

 

 

Do you bribe kids into good behavior with the “Santa’s watching…” 

 

Yes

57.1%

No

32.5%

Not applicable

10.3%

 

 

Do your kids spend their own money on gifts?

 

Yes

36.3%

No

22.5%

No, but only because they’re too young to have their own money.

41.2%

 

 

Your child is begging you for this year’s “must-have” (but impossible to get) gift.  What is the most extreme measure you’ll take in order to get it?

 

Stop by the store a few times and hope it’s in stock

43.9%

Visit multiple stores until I track it down

27.9%

Wrestle it away from another parent in the toy aisle

0.5%

Wait on abnormally long lines

12.6%

Research online until I find it

50.0%

Pay a premium to get it

7.2%

All of the above - whatever it takes

3.8%

None of the above

17.7%

 

 

How do you keep holiday spending under control? 

 

Setting and sticking to a strict budget

38.6%

Bargain shopping at outlet stores, using coupons, etc.

49.7%

Only buying gifts for the kids

28.5%

Gift exchanges like Yankee Swaps  and Secret Santa

7.7%

Set strict limits on the number of gifts given per person, regardless of age

16.2%

We don’t! This isn’t the time of year to hold back.

11.2%

 

 

Do you feel pressure to keep up with other families this time of year?

 

Absolutely

7.9%

Sometimes

38.7%

Never

53.4%

Approximately how much will you spend per child this year?

 

Under $25

1.3%

$25 to 50

4.2%

$51 to $100

13.4%

$101 to $200

26.7%

$201 to $300

24.2%

$301 to $400

12.4%

$401 to  $500

7.8%

$501 to $1,000

7.2%

More than $1,000

2.6%

 

 

Mean

27141.9%

Median

21844.5%

 

 

How will your holiday spending compare to last year’s?  

 

We’ll spend less.

25.9%

We’ll spend about the same.

66.1%

We’ll spend more. 

8.0%

 

 

Do you have a friend or family member who spoils your kid too much?

 

Yes

49.8%

No

50.2%

 

 

Have you ever asked anyone to scale back the number of gifts given to your kid?    

 

Yes

54.8%

No

45.2%

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