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Parenting Tips For Christmas

If your kids turn into wild animals while they're ripping open holiday presents, family and adolescence counselor Mike Riera has some suggestions to make the big day go more smoothly.

Are your kids of the age or personality type that they get over-excited opening presents and bored in church or after the holiday dinner?

If so, then now is the time to find some possible solutions.

Click here to for a list of Mike Riera's responses to viewer emails.
If you have a question for Riera about dealing with your teen, send an email to with "Ask Mike" in the subject line. Or write to "Ask Mike" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019. Your question may be featured on future shows.

Sit down with them and talk about what to expect in terms of the emotional terrain of the day. Past Christmases are a good guide.

Opening Presents

Tell your kids no one can open presents until everyone is awake and gathered around the tree. Studies show the ability to delay gratification is very important for future success so if your kids come into your room Christmas morning at 5 a.m., tell them you will all rest for half an hour until 5:30 a.m.

Kids often want to open up all the presents at the same time like crazed maniacs. Then when the present opening that they've anticipated for months is finished, they are disappointed. To avoid this, have a protocol about dealing with presents.

  • Kids should open one present at a time.
  • If they get an article of clothing as a present, have them try it on before they open the next present.
  • Have them thank the giver after opening a gift.
These steps will teach kids to savor the moment, and they will learn manners in an organic and informal way.

After Dinner

Tell kids that after Christmas dinner parents often want to sit around and talk or watch football. Ask what they want to do. Kids want to let off steam, and they get cabin fever faster than adults so expect this.

Parents should plan games for kids, to go to a movie or for a walk, so kids don't feel frustrated and cranky. Let them get some exercise even if it's freezing outside. Besides, it's good for the parents, too.

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