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About Practical Parenting Strategies with Dr. Heller

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist and founding partner with The Heller Psychology Group LLC, which is a small private practice located in Bethesda, Maryland near Montgomery Mall. He specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their families. Dr. Heller conducts play, individual, and family psychotherapy for a variety... Read more

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Tips for Choosing Holiday Gifts

Dr. Carey Heller: Clinical Psychologist and founding partner of The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Carey Heller: Clinical Psychologist and founding partner of The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

With Hanukkah almost over and Christmas just around the corner, holiday season is in full swing. A big part of the holidays, especially for children, is receiving gifts. For parents, this can sometimes be difficult. Parents in many cases can only allot a certain amount of money for gifts, and may also worry about spoiling their children too much. Obviously, there are many views on how many gifts and what kinds of gifts are appropriate. When you use certain items as part of a reward system, this also should be taken into account when choosing gifts.

Here are a few suggestions to guide your gift choices for children:

1) Xbox 1, Play Station 4 and other video game systems. Video game consoles are a very popular and expensive gift. While children love video games and there are some benefits that can be gained from playing certain games, it is important to think about what rules may be put into place about use of the game system. For instance, if giving your child Xbox 1, are you planning to restrict how many hours they play on school days, not allow them to play until their homework is complete, restrict use of online features, etc.? It is important to determine these items before giving the gift so that you can plan accordingly and avoid potential pitfalls later on. Obviously you don’t need to get into an in-depth discussion about rules immediately when giving the gift, but having a conversation soon after is important. Another option with game systems is to give it as a gift, but instead of restricting use, only allow use when it is earned through clearly defined expectations (i.e., completing homework, doing all chores, etc.).

2) If you want to encourage your child to be more active, consider getting them a gift that will encourage that such as a bike, scooter, street hockey equipment, basketball hoop and so forth.

3) If your child is currently working toward earning an incentive (i.e., specific video game, iPhone), it is best to let them continue to earn that item and not simply buy it for them because it’s a holiday.

4) Siblings become jealous of each other for a variety of reasons. Therefore, with gifts, it is important to try to give all of your children the same amount/monetary value for gifts when possible. If you feel that your children won’t be able to share a joint gift without significant fighting, consider either not getting them joint gifts or setting rules to prevent fighting over the item.

These are just a few suggestions to assist with holiday gift giving. Happy Holidays!

In addition to regular blog updates, you can follow me through The Heller Psychology Group’s Social Media pages for daily postings of useful articles:

*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship,  and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*


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Carey Heller, Psy.D.

About Carey Heller, Psy.D.

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. He works with children, adolescents, and young adults, providing psychological/psychoeducational evaluations and individual psychotherapy. Dr. Heller specializes in ADHD, executive functioning issues, and Autism Spectrum Disorder and is happy to answer questions and provide consultations for individuals who are considering pursuing treatment or an evaluation for their child, adolescent, or themselves. Dr. Heller can be reached directly at 301.385.2610 or

For appointments, please call the office at (301) 385-2610 or email The Heller Psychology Group at with your contact information and availability for appointment times.


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