10 Tips: Conquer Your Child’s Holiday Nagging

10 tips for dealing with children's relentless “must-have” gifts this holiday season.

Kids at ChristmasDALLAS (SMU) — Whether they are pleading for a Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Doll or remote-control Air Hogs Hyperactives toy car, children will be working overtime to seal the deal on this year’s “must-have” holiday gifts.

Toy marketers are their co-conspirators, but here’s the catch: The “nag factor” — the begging that stems from the seasonal onslaught of advertising — isn’t a true indication of what your child really wants, says SMU Marketing Professor Rick Briesch. The last advertisement they saw may grab their attention. But Briesch, a father of four, offers this advice for parents who want to find out what their children really want:

  1. Urge children to prepare a list. “This will help all children prioritize, but particularly those from ages 6 to 12,” he says. “List-making (even if the list is going to Santa) helps these children develop skepticism about advertising and helps them understand that the advertisements are meant to influence them.”
  2. Separate the list into “high priced” and “low priced” gifts. Be sure to include all costs, such as the annual plan fee for that new cell phone, to place that gift in the right category.
  3. Have kids list choices in each category — so they don’t just put “pricey” stuff on the list — and parents should create a budget.
  4. If children want to add something to the list, have them first remove something from it.
  5. Don't buy them anything that’s not on the list.
  6. Have them keep the list and reflect on the items, especially if they are very young. This way the child will learn to differentiate between the promotion and the item itself. “And as Christmas gets closer, ask the child to order the presents in regard to their favorites so they won’t expect everything,” Briesch says.
  7. Don’t buy them everything on the list.
  8. Remember to give them small gifts to help balance expectations.
  9. Set rules before entering stores. “There’s to be no nagging,” Briesch says. “And remember to just say no.”
  10. Emphasize that Christmas is not only about receiving gifts, but also about giving. “Have kids plan on giving gifts to others, even if these are handmade items,” he says. “And remember, if they want to buy gifts, put them on a budget too.”


To interview Rick Briesch, please contact Denise Gee of SMU News and Communications at 214-768-7650.