When your child has championed the skill of communication, they might like to practise their verbal dexterity by asking for every Christmas present under the sun!

Sharon Charlton-Thomson, of the Parent Coaching Company, gives some tips about setting boundaries and managing their expectations.

Dear Santa …

It can be oh-so-tempting to go overboard at Christmas to make it perfect. You really must get that expensive train set, the new ‘in’ toy or clothing of the season, etc. There are so many things to seduce us to part with our cash!

If your child has drawn up an extensive list to Santa, make clear it’s a wish list, rather than a list of demands! Children, understandably, can get very excited at Christmas, with every TV ad proudly displaying the biggest and brightest toys on offer, all those Christmas in-store catalogues and the lure of the lights and the magic.

It’s easy to succumb to temptation and try to make everything perfect. Yet, sadly, every January, families up and down the country count the cost of this with spiraling debts. This is silly – your baby or toddler is not going to know how much was spent. Christmas does not have to be a financial headache if you choose to plan ahead. Start thinking about Christmas budgeting as early as January and dedicate part of your disposable income to the Christmas savings fund throughout the year, or join a saving club account.

The meaning of Christmas

It’s important to take a breather and consider how your child views Christmas. What do they understand about its meaning? And what do you want them to understand about it?

First of all you need to be clear what meaning of Christmas you want to instill in your child. You need to do this long before it’s time to write that list to Santa. In the run-up to Christmas read and discuss stories with your children that support your family values, particularly those that relate to Christmas, to giving and receiving etc. Show your approval when you see behaviours that fit in with your family values, whether that be in your own children, in others or on the TV.

Similarly, show your displeasure when you see the opposite. Let your child create their own bedtime stories about this and encourage them to talk about disappointments and how they handle that.

Know (and tell) your limits

You also need to decide how much you want relatives to spend and how much you will spend, then hold yourself and others to these boundaries. Do this by, informing your relative that you have a new boundary/limit or a new family rule or pact and use whatever language works best for you. By setting a boundary, you will feel powerful. Being your advocate, your own champion, gives you self-esteem. Remember you can do this kindly and with compassion, it doesn’t have to be a battle. Remember to thank your relatives when they have adhered to your boundary.