Pressure on parents to provide perfect gift gets multiplied through marketing

 

Toy commercials are taking over our TV’s and holiday advertising will dominate our lives for the rest of the year. This also means for many parents, the pressure is on to buy their kids the “it” gift this holiday season according to Anna McAlister.

“Definitely, it’s a huge push this time of year to get into the minds of children and let them know what’s it, what’s cool, and what’s in.”

Unfortunately, even if you find “it” you can’t afford the gift — or you pay too much and your child doesn’t care about the “it” gift a month from now. This cycle is tough says McAlister, a MSU assistant professor who studies the impact marketing has on young kids. She says marketers aren’t just targeting kids with these ads, parents are targeted too. Plus, the pressure to buy the “it” gift doesn’t lessen by simply turning off the TV.

“Children know what’s in. Even if families try and keep them away from commercials or from going to the mall so they won’t see it, they hear about it from their friends at school.”

National surveys report the average amount parents are spending these days, per child for Christmas, is between $300 – $500. This amount already seems unattainable for many moms and dads, but despite the stat, McAlister believes parents can still have a merry Christmas without breaking the bank.

“Certainly one thing I would suggest is to set expectations early and be very clear about what is reasonable and what is not in your household.”

Plus, McAlister says a lot of research has shown kids like to hear yes, so instead of sharing with them what items they won’t be getting, focus on what they may get.

“Tell them you can have anything that’s less than $20, or you give them a list of toys you approve of, then that’s one way to allow the child to feel empowered and that they are getting to pick what they want.”

Strategies that’ll hopefully provide a little help to depressurize this holiday season.

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