Saying More than Just "˜No' to Children This Christmas

Newswise — Out of economic necessity, many parents will have to say 'no' to their child this Christmas. Sally Black, Ph.D., assistant professor in health services at Saint Joseph's University, warns parents to do more than just say 'no.'

Parents will need to discuss the reasons why holiday spending will be different this year, Black suggests. "Teach kids about the economy," she says, "but maintain an optimistic attitude."

Restricting exposure to advertising can also help. Black proposes substituting time in front of the television or computer screen with healthier activities, such as bike riding, visiting friends, playing board games or reading a book.

"Less than two hours of screen time per day is recommended," she adds. "When families do watch television, rent films that allow parents to fast forward through the advertisements. If you have teens, discourage them from hanging out at the mall where they will be exposed to a wide array of unnecessary merchandise and hard-sell tactics."

There are plenty of alternative activities to engage in around the holidays beside spending money. Black emphasizes using the time normally spent shopping to help an elderly neighbor or participate in a food drive.

Finally, she warns parents that some kids could turn to shoplifting.

"One out of two children report stealing items less than $50 and one out of three have shoplifted," she reveals.

Parents, Black says, must also be aware of the shoplifting laws in their state and should share that information with their kids.

"Some state laws provide no opportunity for the child's conscience to kick in," Black explains. "For example, in Pennsylvania, concealing merchandise is shoplifting. The offender does not have to leave the store. Thus, once a child has put merchandise in a pocket, the crime is committed and the offender faces criminal prosecution and punishment."

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