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ubersiren's avatar

Are there (good) parents who actually deny or limit their children's holiday/birthday presents for bad behavior?

Asked by ubersiren (15044 points ) April 21st, 2010

I don’t mean abusive parents who probably don’t gift their children normally, but do you know any parent who would usually give their kids gifts, but decide one year that the kid has been too bad?

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35 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

My parents did. We lost one present each time we needed to be punished. Only presents this didn’t seem to apply to was socks and underware.

netgrrl's avatar

Hmmm. A gift is a gift, so if you consider birthday or holiday presents true gifts, it’s probably better to find some other way.

It’s ok to limit access to gifts later on, of course. Example: no Nintendo DS for a week.

Chongalicious's avatar

@netgrrl Agreed.

Presents for birthdays or Christmas shouldn’t be taken away. They’re not gifts for good behavior. On the other hand, gifts for getting good grades in school, doing well in other activities, etc… I think that rule of taking them away would apply definitely.

YARNLADY's avatar

I did. I canceled his birthday party and put away all his presents because he lied about his bus money for an entire week. When we asked the child care center to investigate who was stealing his money, they discovered he was spending it.

He later got the presents for Christmas.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@netgrrl Gotta disagree with the Gift is a gift. If everyone knows the rules, before the punishment is used, it is on you to accept the consequences of your actions.

phillis's avatar

Damn, that sounds so painful. Not in my house. The spirit of giving is not conditional. You give to someone for the sole reason that you love them. It should remain unsullied. The only way to keep the intentions pristine is to do it with the purest heart possible. There is plenty of time to be angry later. If everything “good” comes with strings attached, then the reciever can never fully enjoy it! It’s a really destructive message to send :(

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I was a pretty rotten kid. My parents would take away a present already given if they didn’t like my behavior. I often made the situation worse by my stubbornness. When the “punishment” was over and they tried to give the present back, I would refuse to accept it. I would do this even with expensive gifts that I really wanted, just to satisfy my sense of outrage.

My line of thought was that if the thing could be taken from me, then it was never mine in the first place.One case that I particularly remember was when I was about eight. I was accused of some wrongdoing and a very fine classical guitar was taken from me as punishment. When they later realized that I was not the guilty party they tried to give the guitar back. I refused to touch the thing; it gathered dust in a closet for many years; I have no idea whatever happened to it. To add insult to injury, I refused to take any further music lessons for as long as I lived in my parents house.

The fact that I was causing emotional havoc with such actions never entered my warped autistic mind. I guess the point I’m making is that a stubborn child can make this strategy backfire on you, especially if you’re not absolutely certain of the childs guilt.

flo's avatar

Yes that is part of the definition of good parenting. Not rewarding them for bad behaviour.

netgrrl's avatar

I agree w a good reward/punishment system that’s consistent.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think this is a bad idea. Birthdays should never be punishment or reward. Birthdays are a celebration of our birth and not necessarily our behavior.

MissAusten's avatar

We don’t limit birthday or Christmas gifts based on behavior, mainly because I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. I don’t threaten to do things that I can’t follow through with. A birthday is a celebration of the child’s birth obviously which in and of itself is a gift to the entire family. Christmas is a family celebration (not very religious family) that we all participate in, and using it as a tool to get children to behave just seems to go against everything that we enjoy about the holiday.

That being said, I have absolutely no problem taking away toys or treats, canceling plans, or turning the car around instead of going to do something fun. I can pack up and leave the beach or playground in record time, unplug the TV, take away video games, and refuse to serve dessert for days on end. Oh, and there’s nothing like making your kid write out letters of apology for misbehaving (my personal favorite). We are also big on personal responsibility, meaning you fix your own mistakes or clean up your own messes or deal with the problems you create for yourself.

It doesn’t take kids long at all to learn what they can and can’t get away with. Holding birthdays or Christmas over a kid’s head seems like a desperate effort to me, kind of like spanking. A last resort that, in the long run, hurts more than it helps or at the very least could be easily avoided.

liminal's avatar

I agree @MissAusten. In our family special occasions are not part of discipline. We depend on natural consequences, personal responsibility, and loss of privileges, similar to what MissAusten mentioned, which can happen on the special occasion day, but the celebration and gifting remains intact.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If their misbehavior occurred around the birthday, I won’t give ‘em some of the presents I got for them (I still get the normal amount as my punishments are never so far in the future so I wouldn’t know to not get ‘em) but they always have a chance to improve and to do better and they’d get ‘em eventually.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Kids need to know that their actions have consequences.
To skip a birthday, it would have to be a pretty major offense but if the deed was bad enough, the punishment has to be appropriate.
If a son beats up his little sister, no birthday. Period.

evandad's avatar

I think that would do more harm than good. If a punishment is called for then find another one.

JLeslie's avatar

I kind of agree with the idea that birthdays and Christmas are not used as a punishment for bad behavior. However, I can see why @YARNLADY did what she did, because it was an extreme case, and she had other troubles with him if I remember correctly. So tough for parents.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Not! In fact they all got a little more easier around my birthday, I could get away with more. And have more privileges, as additional birthday gifts!
I was never punished around my birthday.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I would not chuck the gift all together but the opulence of the gift would diminish. Instead of bike it might degrade into a set of dominoes.

jeanmay's avatar

I don’t think it’s fair to take away for good something you have already given: a gift is a gift.

If you haven’t given it yet, it’s not a gift, so how is that a punishment? I wouldn’t want my child to think that they have a right to something that they desire, but don’t yet have. Life just doesn’t work like that.

I do take away toys and privileges temporarily as a punishment, as @MissAusten so eloquently describes.

superjuicebox's avatar

Yes, I think that if the kid does something bad enough this consequence should be issued. It would actually be very good to do this to your child as long as they deserved it, because it would teach them that they have to be responsible for their actions and mistakes. A LOT of people lack this these days, especially those running large corporations and businesses.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

My dad asked for some chirstmas and birthday presents back when I moved to my mother’s house in my teens. I “forgot” to bring them with me the next time I saw him.

Leanne1986's avatar

I don’t believe that presents should be given just because it is someones birthday or Christmas etc. My parents were always threatening my brother and I with less (or even none at all) Christmas presents if we didn’t behave and guess what, we always behaved (especially around that time of year) because we knew that our parents followed through with any threat they made. If a child believes that, regardless of behaviour, they will always get presents because it’s Christmas then that, to me, equals a bit of a spoilt brat (and also teaches them that Christmas is about presents and not much else). I’m not saying that the child should never get the presents intended for Christmas or birthdays etc but I don’t see anything wrong with holding off for a day or two until the child behaves.

bongo's avatar

Having a birthday does not give an automatic reason to be given things for free. I was always a good kid so never had mine taken off me but if a kid is being an abolute brat, dont give them hollow threats. carry them out. Kids should learn that they dont get something for nothing. Its not hard to be nice, ok I know all kids have their tantrums and scream about things and hit their siblings. a one off mistake shouldnt mean no presents but if the kid is continually playing up and being downright mean, yes – dont give them their presents!

meagan's avatar

I’m sure that I’ll do this if I ever have children. I’ll be the parent that puts money in their college fund instead of some POS toy that will be destroyed in a few weeks.
If a child really acted up, I’d return the present and donate the money to charity in their name. Seems like a good lesson to me.

meechee's avatar

My Husband has threatened that every christmas…its an empty threat…

WestRiverrat's avatar

@meechee if he had carried it out the first time he threatened it, he would not have had to use it again. The threat would likely be enough.

Joybird's avatar

That is an inappropriate use of discipline. It doesn’t shape desirable behavior at all. What is does is breed resentment and resentful animals of all species act out. Effective trainers know that punishment models are the least effective. Positive Reinforcement models are the most effective. What you are suggesting is not only ineffective but emotionally cruel and counterproductive to the kind of relationship you want to foster for optimal shaping of behavior.

sarahjane90's avatar

I was always threatened with receiving a lump of coal!

Uberwench's avatar

I like @YARNLADY‘s solution. If the bad behavior is close to a time when the child would be getting gifts, cancel the party and the gift-giving. I wouldn’t hold a grudge all year, though, and reduce a kid’s number of gifts on his September birthday for something he did in April. That’s just vindictive and stingy. Kids do bad shit. You punish them and move on. But it’s their own damn fault if they act poorly near their birthday. In my day, we knew better than to act out so close to the best days of the year. You were always on your best behavior around birthdays and holidays.

mindful's avatar

My uncle and aunt practice that technique on my cousins. My poor cousin is getting his ipod touch taken away for bad behavior. The ipod touch was bought 6 months ago on his birthday.

GladysMensch's avatar

As far as canceling Xmas or birthday… I wouldn’t withhold gifts unless that was a suitable punishment for the crime. If you purposely break your sisters things, then the money I was going to use to buy presents for you will be used instead to replace her things. If you whine that your birthday party can’t be at Wally World, then maybe we’ll just have it in the basement; and if you whine about that, then maybe we won’t have one at all.

sydsydrox's avatar

My parents don’t even let me celebrat Christmas if I get punished. I don’t even get sent to my room! (Too fun in there) They make me sit there and suffer while everyone else is happy. How heartless!

Carol's avatar

Justice delayed is justice denied.
Punish at the time of the offense.

Inspired_2write's avatar

One does not get gifts for good behavior, a bad way to bring up kids expectations.
As they will then be conditioned to getting gifts and then money for what is expected of them to become mature adults.

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