We recently had a very generous visit from Santa, who left a substantial pile of new toys for each child. I personally thought the kids made out very well and got some very nice gifts, but just try to tell them that.
I was cleaning the girls' room yesterday and what did I find, stuffed under the bed, but most of Princess Jasmine's Christmas toys - many still in their boxes, unopened and unplayed with. This is the same Princess who, just a couple of days ago, told me she has nothing to play with, all her new toys are boring and she's already had all the fun she could have with them. She then proceeded to tell me she wanted me to take her to the store, so she could spend her Christmas money on new toys. I told her no, she has plenty of toys and doesn't need any more and she would do better to save her money for now.
A couple of days later we had our in-home therapy. Both girls spent a good portion of it bemoaning all the things they wanted for Christmas but didn't get. Namely, an iPhone, an iPad and a Nintendo 3DS. The therapist reassured them both that Santa does not bring such high tech toys to six and eight year olds (at least not in this house). Neither girl seemed very happy with that answer.
All kids at this age get the gimmes. They're old enough to see things around them that friends have, or in stores, that they would like to have themselves. But they aren't old enough yet to really understand the concept of money. All they know is grown-ups go to the store and buy things, so why can't they?
Every parent has to decide for themselves how much stuff is enough for their kids, and how much is too much. Me, I'm of the less-is-more school of thought. When Big Brother was growing up I couldn't give him that much, although I often wished I could. That is not to say I never gave him anything or that he never had anything nice, he did. He just never had the expensive gaming systems, or all the fancy electronics, or the sheer volume of toys his friends had. Growing up in an affluent area that was hard for him for a number of reasons, but you know what? He appreciated what he had and he took better care of his things than many of his friends did.
I remember one incident when he went to a friend's house and the friend in question intentionally broke a brand-new, very expensive gaming system, just to prevent his brother from playing with it. That was when my son finally "got" what I'd been trying to teach him. He saw that his friends didn't care about what they already had because every time they turned around, it seemed, they got something new.
One of these days I hope the Princesses will have their own "Ah ha" moment that will cure them of the gimmes. For now, I'm just encouraging them to count their blessings and reinforcing the idea that having stuff isn't what makes you happy.