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Why Kids May Want More This Christmas

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Oh boy. I just read a Wall Street Journal article that gave me pause. Can you guess what the Journal is predicting for popular toy sales this holiday season?

They believe kids are going to be asking for sports cars.

Yep. It’s true. What’s more, parents will likely get them for their children. There are a plethora of expensive automobiles that are penetrating the toy market with smaller versions of Porsches, Ferraris, Mercedes, Mustangs and even Tesla’s. This season, battery-powered sports cars that look exactly like the one Dad or Mom wants (not a cartoon version of it), will be on the Christmas list, says the Wall Street Journal. Evidently, sales of “ride on” children’s cars sold more than $430 million in 2015 and this year’s sales are already up 7.1 percent over last year, according to market research from NPD Group.

If you were to look at these cars, they look amazing. They appear to be the real Tesla or Porsche, with genuine colors from the automakers, and with optional accessories —just like the adult models, including personal plates, spare chargers, wheel covers, customize turbine rims and more. The cars start at between $300 and $500, but with options they cost quite a bit more.

Wow. Times have changed since I was a kid.

What Message Are We Sending Kids?

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The fact is, this shouldn’t surprise us. We’ve said for years that times are changing. Materialism is a gigantic factor for all of us, regardless of our socio-economic status. We all want more. As I study the trends in products for the emerging generation, I’ve noticed this pattern in what we sell them. We’ve created an appetite in kids:

1. We’ve told them they should have bigger toys.

They got a smaller version of that doll or truck last year. It’s obvious they should get something even bigger this year, since they’re older. They watch their parents getting bigger “toys” and gadgets, and they follow suit.

2. We’ve told them they should have toys sooner.

Have you noticed toys that middle school kids once got are now the fad for elementary school kids? We expose children to products and services at a younger age today and create appetites for getting things sooner.

3. We’ve told them they should have better toys.

Giving gifts during the holidays used to be a simple practice in past decades. Now, children have been conditioned to want something better. The assumption is that we need the very best brands, even as young kids. Holiday expenses continue to rise.

4. We’ve told them they should have them faster.

Let’s face it. Nobody likes to wait. It’s hard for anyone to delay gratification, and I hear of more families today allowing kids to open presents a few days, or even a week, early.

It’s interesting. We suffer from the “Encore Problem.” We’ve created an expectation in kids for more—and bigger—and better. What adolescents once expected, has now become the expectation of “tweeners.” And this mindset can feed that “Entitlement Beast” and keep it alive. What’s more, it’s often our fault.

Starving the Entitlement Beast

Let me remind you. We have done this to them. Kids are products of our making. I realize that the media and social media whet these appetites for more and better, but it is possible to guide them through the landmines of entitlement—if we’re watchful.

What makes it hard is we want to “wow” them.

Trips and experiences are happening at an earlier age; it takes more to “wow” them since they’ve been exposed to so much on-line. What was once discovered in high school is now discovered in middle school; and what was once a topic in middle school is now one in elementary school.

Exposure leads to expectations . . . which can lead to entitlement.

What’s more, we’re afraid we’re not keeping up with our neighbors. We’re afraid our kids will compare our provision for them to their friends’ parents. We’re afraid they won’t adore us . . . unless we give them something, well . . . big.

What would happen if we made sure that this Christmas . . . .

  • We gave our children at least one gift that was meaningful.
  • We taught them appreciation for things that are small and simple.
  • We gave our kids a reminder that the holiday is about giving, not getting.
  • We gave our sons and daughters a message that makes them counter-cultural when it comes to expectations and entitlement.

What if we created a new expectation?

  • Simpler
  • Smaller

What if our gifts were less . . . but meaningful?


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Why Kids May Want More This Christmas