92% of parents say their own kids are spoiled: How to start fixing it

Are the kids asking for everything under the sun this Christmas? Are the meltdowns over toys happening more frequently? Parents should take comfort in knowing they are not alone.

When TODAY.com surveyed readers about the holidays this year, almost all parents said they worry about their kids being spoiled: 60% reported that their kids were "maybe a little spoiled," while 32% responded that their kids were "spoiled rotten."

Most parents said their kids will be getting fewer than 10 presents this year, with 17% reporting their kids will get 1-3 presents.

Hannah Keeley, a parenting expert and mom of seven, tells TODAY.com that managing expectations and being honest are key for parents dealing with spoiled kids.

"It’s one-hundred percent OK to be honest with children about budget restrictions," she says. "However, you can always turn this into an experience of abundance, and not scarcity."

Keeley recommends explaining to the kids that their Christmas gifts will have limitations, setting parameters about the number of gifts or the total budget.

"But share with them that this year you want to add more experiences," she tells TODAY.com. "Let the kids suggest a few ideas of what they would like to do with the family this year."

Keeley also encourages modeling an attitude of gratitude.

"Let the kids see you helping and serving others," she says, suggesting acts of kindness that include helping someone take groceries to their car, or paying for coffee in a drive-thru line.

What is a good way to explain the spirit of giving, not receiving?

Keeley offers a simple way to explain this concept to a child.

“Giving is that big warm feeling inside when you give something you love to someone you love even more,” she says.

She also explains that because children learn experientially, adding giving activities to the calendar in December can be beneficial.

Activities could include:

  • Making Christmas presents for the birds. Try making pine cones covered in peanut butter, rolled in birdseed and tied up to the trees with red and green ribbon.

  • Making Cherry Chip Loaves for all the neighbors. Use the recipe for banana bread and add dried cherries and white chocolate chips.

  • Doing volunteer work for older neighbors. Work may include sweeping steps, raking leaves or washing cars.

Keeley tells TODAY.com she uses three methods to solve the "gimmes" when kids seem to want too much during the holidays.

1. Turn getting into giving.

Instead of requesting lists of what children want to get for Christmas, have them make lists of what they want to give.

"As parents, it’s important that as much as we get excited about the getting, that we overshadow that with the giving," Keeley says.

Keeley says to share your child’s excitement about the awesome toys on their list, and then ask, "Now let’s look at your giving list! What are you getting your siblings? What are you getting Dad? What are we making for your sister this year? ...

"And they’ll get excited. Giving actually feels better, and doing this helps your little ones tap into that feeling."

2. More is caught than taught.

Keeley tells TODAY.com that in her experience as a mom of seven, her kids are typically a reflection of what is happening with her.

"Children will allow you to see your own internal dilemmas," she explains. "So when they have a lot of the ‘gimme’ mindset, sometimes we have to look internally."

Keeley recommends asking yourself four questions:

Am I living in the spirit of gratitude?

Am I practicing it?

Am I more excited about what I’m giving than what I’m getting, not just with Christmas but with life in general?

Am I more grateful than I am discontented about my current circumstances?

"When we live the spirit of gratitude as parents, our children model it, and you won’t see that pervasive ‘I need more’ and ‘I want more’ mindset that can come with the holidays," she says.

3. Try a little December decluttering "magic."

Keeley says that starting this family tradition "truly makes December the most wonderful time of the year." Each Dec. 1, have every member of the family find something to give away.

"By the time Christmas is here, every family member has given away at least twenty-five items, and you have a decluttered home," Keeley says. "Now when the new gifts arrive, they have room to stay."

The Virginia-based expert adds, "This little game not only gets the kids excited about giving, but it also helps eliminate the items in your home that are no longer being used."

Related video:

This article was originally published on TODAY.com