How to Handle Unwanted Gifts as a Montessori Parent

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unwanted gifts

by Holly Daniel

Well-meaning family can be hard to handle around the holidays. When you tell your mother-in-law over and over again that you do not want your toddler receiving any loud, flashy, plastic toys, you’d think you’d be in the clear. Some people just don’t listen.

Here is what you should do to help deter a massive pile of toys you don’t want in your home.

First, talk to the culprits.

These can include grandparents, aunties, friends and anyone else who goes into gift giving frenzies. Tell them exactly how you feel. For example, “Grandma, I appreciate the love you are trying to show Tommy, but we are not accepting these types of gifts this year. If you wish to buy him something, you can choose one or two items from this list but nothing more.”

Be 100% open and honest.

I always feel it is best to be 100% open about these types of family matters, as not to confuse anyone and to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Suggest time not toys.

If they still insist on buying gifts, maybe you can suggest experiences and not materials. For instance, “If you feel you must spend more money on Tommy this year, he has been talking about going to the zoo for the past month. He would love it if you bought tickets and took him to the zoo, especially because he would get to spend extra time with you.”

Teach your child about giving.

If your family member still does not listen and ends up buying every flashy toy in sight, don’t fret. You can teach your child compassion, empathy and kindness by donating some of these toys to a family in need. This may be hard to confess to the gift giver, but once you tell them of your donations, I have a feeling they won’t be over buying next Christmas.

Holly Daniel“Holly is an education consultant for modern-day moms, using step by step guides to bring Montessori into more homes. Holly blogs at This Toddler Life where she shares her love for Montessori. When Holly isn’t helping other moms she’s spending time with her family. Their love of nature and travel takes them on many adventures around the world.”.


2 Comments for : How to Handle Unwanted Gifts as a Montessori Parent
    • yukita manuel
    • December 14, 2017

    Any unwanted gifts I make sure I have a replacement and we donate the unwanted toy to a local womens shelter. But Im grateful my family understands dont cross me when it comes to my kid.

    • Shara Darke
    • December 14, 2017

    When working in the realm of gifts, giving and receiving, graceful extraction can be achieved while preserving the feelings of both giver and recipient. The best way to do this is education.

    Previous generations felt that they’re upbringing was less encumbered and worry about current generations. They wish to connect with the younger children, but are concerned they don’t know how. Legitimizing that connection strengthens the familial bond and encourages the true purpose behind the gift: love. To bring to the givers’ attention that you, also, support wood toys, toys that inspire exploration, or desire for your child to be raised more simply in the beginning will resonate with them. When they feel like you are including them in those growth choices and your child’s life, they will happily agree. Also, explaining that you don’t want to set the precedence of receiving gifts from Grandparents as the first emotional response for your child shows genuine care for the feelings of the giver. They might even secretly be relieved. Another tactic is teaching them what you know about Montessori. More people understanding Dr. Montessori’s philosophy on play, exploration, and how the world looks to the young child provides more supporters of her educational method.

    As a giver, you might not agree with those who wish to buy those toys for their children. Parenting is personal, though, and parents don’t want to feel as though they’re being judged. In order to give toys or gifts that follow the Montessori philosophy, the best way is, again, education. “We love little Ella so much, I’d love to have my daughter give her a gift. Ella’s learned a lot from her Montessori class, and her favorite is the knobless cylinders. It’s amazing how much time she can spend with such a simple thing. There are four different colors. Would you rather have red, yellow, blue, or green? Then they could use them together and have lots of fun!” Now the parent has choices and background in why the gift is being given.

    Time is always a great way to share “a gift,” also. Keep in mind that some people’s Love Language is actually gift giving, and they feel more satisfied themselves when they’ve gifted something to someone else. A heart to heart about meaningful gifts (like a picture book of all the family, which I did one year) will provide direction and preserve both parties’ feelings.

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