Psychologist shares how to handle ‘ungrateful’ kids this holiday season: ‘Take a deep breath’

This mom and psychologist shared some tips on what to do when kids have meltdowns over not receiving the holiday gift they wanted, and parents appreciated her helpful and timely advice. 

It’s been said that you can’t always get what you want, which can be a hard pill for kids to swallow, especially during the holidays when presents are at stake.

Luckily, TikToker, psychologist, and mom of three, Dr. Becky Kennedy (@drbeckyatgoodinside), recently posted a video where she breaks down helpful ways to respond to kids when they have gift meltdowns, proving that some of the best presents come in the form of advice. 


Lots of us have these moments. We give a child a gift only to hear “That’s all? I wanted a different toy!” If you’re like me, you want to reply with “You’re so ungrateful, come on!” Check out this reel for a framework that allows us to think about these moments differently. Okay but how do we actually respond in the moment?  I will break it all down, in my new Surviving the Holidays Bundle. I will give you step-by-step guidance for how to successfully navigate many obstacles the holiday season brings. What’s in the bundle?  ⭐️ My new, live Surviving the Holidays Workshop (December 7th 12:30pm ET) ⭐️ 5 Downloadable guides with concrete steps to navigate through common holiday obstacles  ⭐️ 15+ curated short videos and scripts with my best holiday tips and tricks. Learn more through the link in my bio. #holiday #parenting #goodinside #drbecky

♬ original sound – Dr Becky Kennedy

The clip opens with a shot of Dr. Kennedy addressing the camera. She provides a hypothetical situation where your child opens a gift and becomes visibly upset that it wasn’t what they wanted. 

“Now, if you’re like me, your first thought is, ‘My child is so ungrateful. What’s wrong with them?’ But take a deep breath,” Dr. Kennedy says before asking the parents watching to imagine that they really want something like a new coat for the holidays. 

“You’ve dropped hints about it. You’ve imagined it, and you get a gift from your partner, and you open it…and it’s a slow cooker,” Dr. Kennedy relays. 

“Think about how you feel and how that feeling might come out,” Dr. Kennedy says. “Are you ungrateful, or are you very disappointed?” she asks before explaining ultimately, “Un-feelings aren’t a thing, and ungratefulness is not a helpful framework because it focuses on what a kid isn’t feeling instead of focusing on what a kid is feeling.”

Dr. Kennedy concludes by telling parents to be gentler with themselves. “You have a good kid,” she affirms, noting, “Frustration and disappointment are often part of the gift-receiving process, so prepare your kids for some of those feelings in advance.” 

Viewers, especially parents, appreciated Dr. Kennedy’s advice on reframing kids’ discouragement over receiving a gift that wasn’t what they had in mind. 

“Thank you for this timely reminder,” one user commented.

“This was so helpful to me. Un-feelings aren’t a thing,” mentioned one TikToker with a “mind blown” emoji.  

“The feeling isn’t the problem. The outward reaction is what they have to be taught to manage,” one viewer noted. 

With all the holiday hype and expectations, receiving the gifts they want can be a heated subject for little ones. Fortunately, Dr. Kennedy’s advice is a helpful way of de-escalating kids’ meltdowns and parents’ own emotions. 

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