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Christmas present imbalance- how to help 9yo cope


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#1 ~*Lou*~

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:26 PM

Ok usually I keep Christmas presents between the 2 children really even or balanced.

However this year DD is 12 yrs old and finishing grade 6. She got her first mobile phone in October (my old iPhone 5S) and will be getting the secondary-school-required technology for Christmas.

DS is 9yo and not coping, endless comments about it being unfair. Tears, meltdowns,  clingy. Doesn’t help that my mum has breast cancer and really ill with chemo and both children really missing seeing her.

Obviously DS will get a mobile as he gets to end of grade 6 and he will get whatever laptop is required when he starts year 7 but that’s 3 years away and hard for a child to comprehend. Any suggestions how I can help him through the next couple of months?

Many thanks
Lou :)

#2 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:34 PM

Don't make the secondary school technology a Christmas present.


DD is old enough to understand that if you are spending as much as you are on school stuff then you won't have as much discretionary spending available so a small token present for her for Christmas

#3 KA

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:39 PM

I agree with PP. We always told our kids the technology is parent owned but on loan to them for school purposes. It has helped us ensure balance and meant that we always had full access to the machines when needed. This was really important especially with my DS who went through a pretty bad stage of using technology for some pretty questionable activities!

#4 BusbyWilkes

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:40 PM

Spend time one on one with your DS in the lead up to Christmas. Out for a drink after school, cook together, play his favourite game, perhaps even the movies. Give him more of you, but don't try to match the value of presents or number of presents. While it's tough, he needs to understand that DD had to wait til a certain age and so will he.

#5 JingleBlitzenBalls

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:41 PM

I did the same with my 2, however, I also made sure I spent the same amount on the other one.  So DS got a couple of games for his xbox and various other things he wanted.

Even last year. DD got a new phone and DS didnt need or want one, so he got other stuff to the value of

#6 rosie28

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:42 PM

I’d have the school required tech as just that- like the other items on the booklist, handed out in late Jan, and make Christmas the regular affair. Add in some one on one time with your son given the other factors at play and watch him- his grandmother being ill and absent is probably causing far more issues than the technology.

#7 BornToLove

Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:53 PM

I agree, we never make stuff for school part of Christmas. I have an only child so don’t have to deal with explaining an imbalance of gifts but I think it’s unfair to have a required school item as their Christmas gift.

I would for sure explain budgeting and having a smaller Christmas due to upcoming large school expenses, but I wouldn’t make a compulsory school expense their *gift*. I should also say that I would also delay giving the computer as long as possible (ie the weekend before school starts) just to avoid accidents and damage.

Edited by BornToLove, 01 December 2019 - 04:54 PM.


#8 Bearynice

Posted 01 December 2019 - 05:01 PM

Is it possible to keep the laptop out of Xmas and just give your daughter a little gift?
She is old enough to understand you have spent a lot of money on the computer.
She will still have something to open on Xmas.

Then your ds should be happy!

#9 Fourteenyears

Posted 01 December 2019 - 05:33 PM

Poor kid, sounds like he has a lot on his mind right now and this might be something ‘safe’ to get upset about.

We didn’t give school tech as gifts, but that is because it really is just reserved for school.  We don’t put games or anything on them.  If they are also going to be personal leisure devices I think it is reasonable to give them as gifts.

So if you’re going to, It shouldn’t really be impossible for your younger child to understand.  Nine is old enough, for most kids.   Explain it to him,  that kids need different things at different ages, that he will get the same thing when he goes to high school,  and that it’s absolutely non negotiable.  That it only seems unfair if he thinks he should always get exactly the same thing as his sister at exactly the same time.  But of course he doesn’t.  He isn’t getting a high school uniform now, you don’t buy him dresses, etc.

Honestly, that sort of thing gets very little patience here, if whining continues after an explanation or two.  But my kids (four years apart) have been hearing ‘fair doesn’t necessarily mean the same’ here since they were quite little.

I’d be telling my nine year old that they will be getting presents that have been very carefully chosen for a nine year old, and that a laptop simply isn’t suitable.  That the older sibling didn’t have a laptop at nine, and they survived.  And if whinging continued I would ask them if they would prefer to receive nothing because I don’t particularly feel like shopping for a kid who is just going to whine about what they get.

Mind you, if a kid was ultra-sensitive for other reasons, as yours might be right now, I might not be quite so harsh!   But I would still be resolute.

It really probably is worth doing the hard yards.  Once a kid goes to high school they get to do and have all sorts of things their younger sibling doesn’t.  The sooner the younger kid ishelped to understand that their time will come too, the better.

#10 Julie3Girls

Posted 01 December 2019 - 05:52 PM

Obviously varies on individual circumstances, but 9 isn’t too young to understand and cope with the situation.

I did laptops and phone at Christmas before high school for all three girls. First time, the oldest was 12, younger two were 10 and 7, second time 14,12 and 9.
The younger ones were perfectly able to understand and accept that the laptop and phone was a starting high school thing.

In our case, the laptops were not required by the school, just for at home. Still invaluable for school work, but also allowed games etc on them. So definitely in Christmas gift territory.

I made sure the other kids got something off their Christmas list that they really wanted (skipping things like the pony, and the trip to Disneyland LOL)
But they had always been taught that sometimes things are different for each of them, depending on age. Older sister gets to stay up later, or sit in the front seat of the car. And yes, the age gap can seem a lot bigger when you have one in high school and one in primary. He will need to adapt to it.

That said, as always, individual circumstances can make things harder.

#11 .Jerry.

Posted 01 December 2019 - 06:08 PM

I will turn anything into a present where I can. ;)  Before FYOS DD got lunch boxes, school bag etc.

I think this can be one of life's lessons.  We all learn them along the way and by accepting that your DD gets a bigger present than him it can be a way to learn that "fair" doesn't mean "the same".
He can still get something for Xmas that he really wants, but it doesn't mean that they both get a lot spent on them.

But I am from camp "let the kids ride the waves of things not going right" as part of growing up.

#12 ekbaby

Posted 01 December 2019 - 07:34 PM

Yep I have 3 kids and often explain to them that they get different things due to age but it all works out in the end
DS1 will get a phone at end of year 6 and the others will have to wait till that age also
To the younger ones I explain that DS1 also has more jobs/chores (which is true), and more responsibilities (eg getting himself places, which they would not be old enough to do yet or want to do). That as you grow up you get more fun things (like technology, freedom etc) but more responsibility to go along with it (eg DS1 doing dishwasher every morning, DS2 only has himself to worry about, DS1 makes all kids lunches). DS2 hates chores so that shuts him up. But I also talk to him about how responsibilities and privileges increase with age and there are some things he wants to do.
It works in reverse when DS1 complains that the youngest got a milkshake etc when at the shops or an appointment with me. I say when you two didn’t go to school you used to go places with me during the week and get treats now it is your siblings turn. Youngest also gets things like first choice of movie to watch etc. so I would point out to DS9 that there are lots of circumstances where being youngest is a bonus. And that when he is in year 6 he will also have opportunity for a laptop and phone and it will be more exciting having looked forward to it for a long time. That his sister also waited a long time.

#13 GlitteryElfFarts

Posted 01 December 2019 - 08:02 PM

We used to give the kids all their school stuff for Christmas. That was when there were5 kids though.

DD15 got her school bag for Christmas last year, that was only because it cost a small fortune and she hadn’t asked for it but had been looking at them.

#14 Mrs_greyhound

Posted 01 December 2019 - 08:16 PM

View PostFourteenyears, on 01 December 2019 - 05:33 PM, said:

Poor kid, sounds like he has a lot on his mind right now and this might be something ‘safe’ to get upset about.

We didn’t give school tech as gifts, but that is because it really is just reserved for school.  We don’t put games or anything on them.  If they are also going to be personal leisure devices I think it is reasonable to give them as gifts.

So if you’re going to, It shouldn’t really be impossible for your younger child to understand.  Nine is old enough, for most kids.   Explain it to him,  that kids need different things at different ages, that he will get the same thing when he goes to high school,  and that it’s absolutely non negotiable.  That it only seems unfair if he thinks he should always get exactly the same thing as his sister at exactly the same time.  But of course he doesn’t.  He isn’t getting a high school uniform now, you don’t buy him dresses, etc.

Honestly, that sort of thing gets very little patience here, if whining continues after an explanation or two.  But my kids (four years apart) have been hearing ‘fair doesn’t necessarily mean the same’ here since they were quite little.

I’d be telling my nine year old that they will be getting presents that have been very carefully chosen for a nine year old, and that a laptop simply isn’t suitable.  That the older sibling didn’t have a laptop at nine, and they survived.  And if whinging continued I would ask them if they would prefer to receive nothing because I don’t particularly feel like shopping for a kid who is just going to whine about what they get.

Mind you, if a kid was ultra-sensitive for other reasons, as yours might be right now, I might not be quite so harsh!   But I would still be resolute.

It really probably is worth doing the hard yards.  Once a kid goes to high school they get to do and have all sorts of things their younger sibling doesn’t.  The sooner the younger kid ishelped to understand that their time will come too, the better.

This is great advice. I was the older sibling and my parents were never able to do this. As a result my younger sister got things younger than I did and ultimately got way more stuff than I did. I’m still a bit bitter!

#15 Kreme

Posted 01 December 2019 - 08:48 PM

I think 9 is absolutely old enough to understand the situation. Your sister needs these things for high school. You will get them when you go to high school.

We had the situation where DD needed a laptop in year 5. DS is one year younger and attends the same school, however the school changed their tech policy and he only needed an iPad, which cost a third of the price of the laptop. This means that DS will get a laptop and phone for Christmas in preparation for high school, whereas DD only needed a phone.

Our kids can be as competitive as they come but they’ve both accepted these “inequalities” because they are school requirements, not ordinary gifts.

#16 Lifesgood

Posted 01 December 2019 - 09:16 PM

As others have suggested perhaps don't make the laptop part of Christmas - can you get your DD some small gifts like stationery, books, perfume etc instead?

I'm sorry about your mum and I hope she will be ok. That is hard on all of you.

#17 T2Mum

Posted 01 December 2019 - 09:53 PM

Trying to make things “equal” between siblings is not necessarily fair and I think your son needs to understand that concept as it applies in many places in life. Ideally there is equity rather than equality ie we don’t all get the same, but we try and give everyone what they need.

Edited by T2Mum, 01 December 2019 - 09:55 PM.


#18 ExpatInAsia

Posted 01 December 2019 - 10:20 PM

DD is getting a $2000 laptop for high school and it is definitely going to be her main Christmas present. A few years ago her sibling received an expensive laptop and she received an iPod - both age appropriate gifts.

I think you need to tell your younger child that they have to wait until they are older and maintain that line. They need to learn that they access certain things when it is age appropriate not necessarily when their sibling accessed it. Important life lesson.

Our DD desperately wants a mobile like her older sibling and we keep saying no. She will get one when she is older and needs one. Her older sibling had to wait and so does she.

Edited by ExpatInAsia, 02 December 2019 - 05:19 PM.


#19 Ellie bean

Posted 01 December 2019 - 10:33 PM

I think you need to maintain the line too but I’m sorry this has come at such a difficult time for all of you with your mum ill :(

#20 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 02 December 2019 - 11:13 AM

If we can avoid it, we try not to make school-requirements part of their Xmas presents.

View PostExpatInAsia, on 01 December 2019 - 10:20 PM, said:

I think you need to tell your younger child that they have to wait until they are older and maintain that line. They need to learn that they access certain things when it is age appropriate not necessarily when their sibling accessed it. Important life lesson.

View PostT2Mum, on 01 December 2019 - 09:53 PM, said:

Trying to make things “equal” between siblings is not necessarily fair and I think your son needs to understand that concept as it applies in many places in life. Ideally there is equity rather than equality ie we don’t all get the same, but we try and give everyone what they need.

This is our approach as well. For all gifts - Xmas, birthdays etc. It's not always about getting the same, although sometimes that's appropriate. We have rarely given them them the same gifts at Xmas to avoid this problem when needs/wants diverge.

But I get that sometimes it is not possible to do Xmas gifts and then cough up more money for expensive school-related items a month later. Sometimes they are one-and-the-same, because that's the only way it's going to happen.

#21 liveworkplay

Posted 02 December 2019 - 11:24 AM

9 is not too young to understand that this is an age related present. My kids got mobiles and laptops going into grade 7, the younger siblings understood that that is just what happens when you get to 13 and looked forward to it. My youngest was 8 when her older sister got hers, and 10 when the next did. She knows it is her turn coming up. Same happened when they needed new bikes, one kid would get one and the rest knew that they would when they needed one.

Use this as a lesson for them in patience and that not everything in life is going to be equal all the time.

And hell yes a mobile and lap top was their Christmas and main birthday present as well (the joy of having January birthdays lol) Sure, they got a token present as well but we are not a family to spend $1000's on each child.

Edited by liveworkplay, 02 December 2019 - 11:26 AM.


#22 EPZ

Posted 02 December 2019 - 11:30 AM

We are in the same boat op.

9YO and son starting HS next year.

I remember when my sister turned 18 and my parents put money towards her car.  I had my turn,  when I turned 18.  Milestones happen at a different time and you can't change that.  I tell her these things and how I felt.

As above, I explain different ages different circumstances and remind 9YO how lucky they are they have an older sibling to help them in daily life :laugh: .

#23 Not Escapin Xmas

Posted 02 December 2019 - 12:31 PM

I have an 8yo. 9 is definitely old enough to understand that you get different things at different times.




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