• Fri, Dec 27 - 9:00 am ET

I Dodged My Worst Nightmare And Didn’t Ruin Christmas By Raising Bratty Kids

shutterstock_167947136With two kids who are very aware of the sweets, treats and gifts of Christmas — and one with a memory of how great it was the year before — I worried about Christmas.  I worried about making Christmas special without Santa.  I worried about getting my kids the right gifts.  I worried about how they would react to presents they didn’t like.  All my concern was for nothing come Christmas Day — my kids were well-behaved for Christmas.

On most days of the year I know I am raising decent little kids.  My 2-year-old never forgets to say please and thank you.  My 4-year-old has impeccable manners at school according to all his teachers.  But still, when it comes to the over-indulgence of Christmas, I was a little worried about how my young children would take it all in.

In the days leading up to December 25 my son kept adding new things to his list of presents.  When I told him that ship had sailed and we were accepting no new requests, he harped on the five really big things he wanted.  “You’ll only get ONE big gift,” I reminded him.  Of course he wanted that one to be the Hot Wheels Triple Track Twister when I had already got him the Carcade.  So I just stopped talking about presents altogether.

Christmas morning left me with no good indication of how things would unfold.  My son woke up very early and patiently waiting until his sister was awake.  But she was a green-eyed monster as soon she got out of bed, insisting she wanted to open presents RIGHT NOW.

Oh boy, I worried.  Would they openly reject gifts that weren’t on their list?  Would they fight with each other or their cousins over certain toys?  Would they throw tantrums when they realized only a small portion of the gifts on their wish lists were delivered?

The answer, of course, to some of these questions is yes.  I mean, they are still two-and-four-year-old human beings and American to boot.  But mostly they were just in awe of the pile of gifts and wondered who had the blue wrapping paper with snowmen and who had the green with the Christmas trees.  My 2-year-old daughter just made the most amazing faces with every gift she opened.  She oohed and ahhed and paraded her loot around to show everyone how lucky she was.  My son ran over to me with a few “I can’t believe Santa REMEMBERED that!” The look of wonder on his face was priceless.

They didn’t ask about anything that they asked for but didn’t get.  They traded puzzles they already had with their cousins.  They giggled in their new tent and they chased each other down the hallways with their new Matchbox cars.   I couldn’t even be upset by the few fights they got into.  These were brand-new toys – they should have a little time to enjoy them without having to be perfect little sharers.

They weren’t perfect, but I thought they handled the overwhelming gluttony that is Christmas Day with ideal little attitudes.  I hope to keep raising decent non-bratty little kids.  It will be my Christmas wish always.

(photo: Anastasia Tveretinova/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • jen

    They’re 4 and 2.. All my sister got was a dress and she was in heaven . (she’s also 4 this year)
    Wait until they get older, that way they’ll actually remember all their Christmas list crap

  • Bethany Ramos

    This was the first year my 2yo understood gifts, and he just loved opening them! That part at least was adorable. :)

  • Lee

    I have to split Christmas with my ex every year. this year my daughter came home at noon. he’s flaky so i made sure to pick her up instead of being dropped off. of all the gifts he got her he sent her home with only gak in a plastic bag and told me to enjoy. she’s 4 so i decided that itsstaaying in her suitcase and going right back. i was so frustrated that he couldn’t put away the fangs even on christmas.

    i was worried she would be tired of opening presents and be in a bad attitude for more but boy was i wrong. she was still very excited and happy for her gifts. she was good all day and even sat for dinner despite being excited. she forgot all abour the gak. she asked for it this morning and i told her sorry but that’s a toy for daddys house and she said ok without a fight at all. best christmas ever.

  • LadyClodia

    Our 5 year old was somewhat better than I had expected, but we’ve been having problems lately, so my expectations weren’t very high. He used to be really polite and well-mannered, but he’s been getting kind of snotty the last couple of months, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Plus, it seems like it’s been non-stop presents for him since his birthday at the beginning of the month. I need a new game plan for the holidays/birthdays next year because this was excessive, and I hadn’t planned well enough for it. He too, also kept trying to add stuff to his list at the last minute, but was satisfied that Santa brought him the puzzle (rubix) cube that he really wanted.

    Our 2 year old would open a present that he loved, and then not want to open anything else. We had to hide things from him to get him to move on. I ended up opening some of his presents because he just didn’t care anymore.
    Overall I guess it went pretty well, but I’m so glad that it’s over. I have serious holiday fatigue.

    • Bunny Lucia

      If your son’s birthday’s in December you could start a new tradition where you don’t get him presents for his real birthday but instead give him presents for his half birthday. See if you can get your family on board (you probably can with gentle reminders, most people HATE shopping for December birthdays AND Christmas), I’d be willing to bet it’d really slow down/stop the December present burnout. I can’t remember what happened in August but for some reason we never had any money by the time my birthday rolled around so instead we celebrated my half birthdays. They were really special to me.

    • LadyClodia

      That’s a good idea! Maybe next year we’ll try that, and have an end-of-the-school-year/half-birthday party for him. That way we could do something outside too.
      Otherwise, if the boys want a big party in a few years we’ll probably split the difference in mid-November. Our younger son’s birthday is Nov. 3rd, and our older son’s is Dec. 4th.
      From my birthday at the end of September to my husband’s birthday in a week, we have a birthday/anniversary/holiday to celebrate every 2 weeks with a few having more than one in a week. It’s hard not to get celebration burnout.

  • Pumplestilskin

    This year money is tight and my kids have so much stuff. Usually I shop all year around for Christmas and the mountain of gifts under the tree is huge. This year I sat my kids down and told them they would receive exactly 7 gifts Something they want, need, wear, read from their dad and I. A gift from each of their siblings ($10 limit on these) and a gift from Santa. The most expensive gift under our tree was $25. My mother in law usually goes way overboard too but 2 new grandkids were added to the family and bad weather meant that she actually stuck to the one gift per person rule that she usually says she’s going to do but never does. I was really worried that the kids would be upset but we got no complaints at all. It made me think. I’m probably going to stick with this 7 gift thing. sure gifts may be more expensive some years, less others, but 7 seemed to be a good number.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    We were delighted with how the kids were this year.
    They’re normally very well behaved anyway because we’ve taught them simply- that no one wants to be around a whinger/cheeky/moody/sulky child.
    Best reaction was the little one, she had wanted the Katy Perry perfume but forgot to put it on her list.
    I managed to get the mini gift set and put the new Katy Perry CD into the box too.
    Her eyes were as big as plates when she opened it, screamed SANTA IS REAL HE KNEW I WANTED THIS SANTA IS REAL!

    You should’ve heard the squeals of delight when she discovered the cd hidden inside the box as well.

  • Kay_Sue

    We do five gifts. One from us (the biggest and/or coolest, cuz no way are we going to let the guy in the red suit take credit for the awesome ones), four from Santa. I think it works out well. The kids know they can’t have everything they want. The hard part is convincing my husband he can’t have a real Millennium Falcon.

    • Natasha B

      Haha hubby was soooo mad Santa got the credit for the ‘big’ gifts this year, especially since we were up until 2am assembling one. Maybe Santa will just stuff stocking next year ;)

  • pineapplegrasss

    Good job all you mommies raising sweet kids! Sometimes it feels so hard to do. My boys were also so good and grateful this year. My 2yo had to open everything out of the box before moving on to the next gift, which was good cause it prolonged the fun. The cutest thing was when after all the present opening was over and done, my teen daughter found him sitting at the table, eating imaginary something with his new Monsters University bowl and spoon. “Hey, you want some cereal little guy?”

    • Bethany Ramos

      Awww cute!! “Sweet” kids, maybe… My toddler was actually sick and irritable on Christmas too, so he was a total jerk about his big gift – Power Wheels. Haha.

    • pineapplegrasss

      eew yuk. “the sick monster” no fun! and on Christmas too.. He will love that Power Wheels though. We wanted one, but opted for a big wagon instead, since we need to keep our evening walks confined to the sidewalk lol

  • Kelly

    I’m sorry but I’m laughing so hard at a mother of a two and four year old thinking she’s past the risk of having a bratty kid.