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Experts To Parents: Watch Out For ‘Present Overload’

Christmas Presents (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Christmas Presents (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An economist suggests family shopping for others is a way to combat “present overload,” for the holidays.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Dr. Mary Beth Henning of Northern Illinois University says the fortunate, who needn’t stretch pennies for holiday gifts, can show the kids by example that it’s not that way for everyone.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“Taking the children with them to purchase a gift to donate, or consider giving their children savings bonds, which are less materialistic things that are going to be waved around at recess,” Henning said.

Dr. Henning, who serves as co-director of economic education at NIU, says if the kids show glazed eyes, wandering attention and exhaustion from unwrapping, the parents may well have reached present overload.

Meanwhile, Chicago child psychologist Dr. David Castro-Blanco is recommending a pair of videos for hard pressed parents who need to explain why Santa’s sleigh might be a little light this year.

Castro-Blanco, of the Adler School of Professional Psychology says that both “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” are good movies to watch with kids as a way to explain that holidays don’t always mean fulfillment of everyone’s wildest materialistic dreams.

Dr Castro-Blanco says it’s also extremely important for financially hard pressed parents not to go out on a credit card limb in an effort to assure kids that everything is just fine. He says that what amount to false promises will eventually backfire by distorting the lines of communication between parents and child.

He says kids need the presence of parents, more than presents from parents. He says attention from the parents, even if there’s not a lot under the tree, is the only thing that really counts for younger children in the long run.