In a recent post we discussed Linda Blair’s suggestions for raising unspoilt children.
A key idea was to focus on giving your kids love and attention over material possessions.
And this prompts another important question:
How do we stop our kids from becoming too materialistic?
It’s not a new dilemma, but it can be an increasingly difficult one.
While ‘back in our day’, kids would covet toys and games that they saw their friends playing with, or that were advertised on TV.
Now, kids are facing a constant barrage of advertising on the internet, from social media to web ads and even YouTube videos of other kids playing with new toys!
And if your kids use tablets or smart phones, many apps and games themselves are an advertisement for more shiny new things to envy.
The negative effects of an overly materialistic child can be far-reaching — it can be a financial strain on parents, a distraction from studies and more important developmental and social activities in kids, and can set up unrealistic expectations for adulthood.
So how can we overcome the power of constant advertising in the digital age, and curb materialism in our children?
A recent article in The New York Times suggests materialism can definitely be overcome — with the right approach.
The article cites a study involving 71 families with children who scored ‘high’ on a series of materialism tests.
Half the children received no treatment, while the other half attended group sessions that focused on allowance tracking, the idea of giving, and the connection between money and values.
After the eight-week testing period, the active group showed a marked decrease in their value for material possessions, AND an increase in their self esteem.
Given that not all of our kids have access to these kind of programs, author Ron Lieber suggests six integral ways that we can take the principles of this study and apply them at home.
Here are his suggestions for raising less materialistic kids:
- Give them a regular allowance, and a place to put it. Divide the money into three categories — spending, saving and giving.
- Have a family discussion about finances — your kids need to understand how your income and expenses affect them, and how their expenses affect your family.
- Make a clear distinction between wants and needs.
- Teach your kids to recognise what drives them to want material things, such as advertising.
- Find a mentor – someone who has financial smarts and manages to keep a good balance between needing, wanting and spending.
- Keep the money conversation going — their earnings, spending and material interests will change over the years, so their approach to it will need to as well.
So if you’re finding that your kids are getting a little obsessed with material possessions, give try these six tactics a try. (And let us know how you go!)