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Gifts are a near constant aspect of their lives — there’s no longer any notion of waiting for Christmas for a special treat.And at this time of year they don’t just get a few gifts.Her mother is Suzanne Gates, 52, a retired secretary. It's safe to say that Katherine is going to kill me when she sees what I’ve bought my grandsons for Christmas!

If children are rewarded with endless ‘stuff’ and don’t know the value of things, it damages them psychologically.

They can’t make the connection between good behaviour and reward, hard work and positive outcomes.

I’ve just written a book on willpower, and in the process spoke to former MP Graham Allen, who campaigned on the importance of a child’s early years.

We discussed how willpower — a vital psychological component in becoming a healthy, well-rounded adult — can be eroded by many excesses.

And we all knew the potential consequences: woe was the child who ended up on the naughty list and sacrificed all their presents just because they couldn’t behave themselves.

Behind this message, of course, was an important lesson about behaviour, discipline and gratification.

The simple act of present-giving all too often exposes simmering tensions between the generations, which boil down to disagreements over the very act of parenting.

Roles in many families have changed, with grannies increasingly being asked to step into the role of mother during the week as more women juggle their children and career.

As for how I plan to break the news to Katherine that I’ve got piles of gifts for them this year, I think I’m just going to turn up at their house on Christmas Day, arms laden with presents, and wait for her to start yelling. My mum's instinct, now she’s a nanny, is to spoil the children rotten.

I’ve got a feeling her payback will be sending half of the presents to my house as she won’t want them cluttering up hers. She means well but I’ve had to give her strict instructions not to go over the top.

If you were good, you would be rewarded — not immediately, however, but on Christmas morning. And I can’t help but feel that message has been lost over the years.

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