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Holiday Gifts and your Toddler

Family members can be generous to a fault when it comes to giving gifts to young children. Consider what it feels like as an adult to have a mountain of presents to open, examine, and respond to. Toddlers too, can be easily overwhelmed and do not know how to manage their feelings in such situations. Parents can ease the stress for their toddlers by limiting the amount of presents that are available for a child to play with.

As miniature scientists, toddlers mainly play by trying things out and observing the response. The key to productive play is to help your child to focus and limit the distractions. Toddlers do not know how many presents they received because they do not understand quantity, nor will they be able to remember who gave them what present. To decrease the stress around gifts:
  • Slow down the pace so that your child opens a present and has time to explore it. Let him watch as other family members open their gifts before offering him another one to open.

  • Watch your child to observe which toy really catches his interest. Follow his lead and support his play with that particular toy.

  • Do not be upset if your child seems to prefer the wrapping paper and boxes.

  • Select three toys that have piqued your child’s curiosity. Put the other gifts away in a closet out of sight for another time. Knowing your child’s temperament will also help guide your decisions about which gifts to keep out, i.e., books or puzzles versus action toys.

  • If family members have sent several gifts, select one to put under the tree or in the stocking and save the others for another time.

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