Every time you turn around, someone is trying to sell something. Quite often, the target audience is not an adult, but rather, children. They know that they can get these ideas into kids’ heads and then they will start to bug mom, dad, grandma……just about anyone they can….until they get the item they want.
Why do parents give in? They think it will make their kids happy and if their children have a great childhood, they will be less likely to be an unhappy adult. Sorry folks. That is not how it works.
In fact, there is not any direct correlation in decreased teen suicide, drinking or other behavior as it relates to kids receiving everything they want. In fact, it often has the opposite affect. Sadly, many times, the kids who have too much end up doing the most self harm (case in point, the Affluenza Teen).
That makes many ask the question…..how do I raise non-materialistic children in a materialistic society? I’ve got some tips here:
1. Spend time with your kids. Ask any child what he or she wants and more times than not, they will say to spend time with mom and/or dad. Gifts will never replace your personal attention. In fact, it sends the opposite message. It is telling your kids that things matter more than your relationship with them. If we can’t take five minutes out of our day to just focus on our kids, then why did we have them in the first place? Make them a priority. Always.
2. Don’t go overboard with presents at celebrations. Your child’s birthday is completely about them. The day should be filled with something fun to mark the occasion, but it doesn’t need to be filled with an overflow of presents.
Your kids are looking for the memories with you. When they are grown, they will remember the time you took them out for a junkfood breakfast when they were 10, but will never remember all of the presents they received.
Use these celebrations as a time to make memories and not just squander money.
3. Lead by example. If mom and dad do nothing but shop and buy things for themselves, what sort of example is that setting for your kids?
Kids learn many habits through their parents. If you believe you need the latest and greatest electronic, your kids will follow suit. Be the example for your kids.
4. Expose them to those in need. Kids need to see what it is like to have nothing at all. Together, volunteer your time to help a a shelter, soup kitchen or other local charity. When kids see other kids who have nothing at all (not even a home), but who are yet happy, it helps them understand that it is not things that make them happy. They find happiness in the simple things in life.
5. Teach them about money. Kids can learn about money from a very young age. Teach them the important principles about how it is best to manage money. They should learn to always save and always give.
6. Limit exposure to advertisers. By monitoring the programs they watch and even YouTube videos, you can limit the time they are being bombarded by advertisers sharing the newest toy our gadget. This has an added benefit as it also can limit screen time and force kids to use their own imagination to have fun!
7. Rewards with experiences – not toys. When your child reaches a goal, rewards should be something untangible. It should not be able to be held. Rather than upgrade to the newest tablet, why not allow them to select where to go for your next outing. Or, give them a day that is all about them where they select the games to play and what to have for dinner. You’ll find that sometimes the simplest reward gives them the greatest satisfaction.
8. Start young. Even the youngest children can learn about how time with others matters more than a toy. Make bathtime the best time of the day. Spend extra time reading at night. Kids thrive on that parental time and when given the chance, would chose you over any toy.
Now,ou might think that it is too late to start as you’ve already headed down this path. It is not. You are the parent and you can change the rules at any time you want.
9. Encourage them to help others. As you gather items to donate, have them go through toys to find things they can give away. Teach them that they do not need 12 dolls, that they could give some to someone else who has none. You might be surprised at the items your kids are ready to give to someone else.
10. Keep the conversation going. Talk to your kids about things that matter. Help them know that we have things that we need, such as furniture, food and clothing. However, talk about the things that they do not need to have to be happy. This has an added perk of just talking to your kids (who, as they get older, seem to want to talk with you less and less).