Kids and Commercialism Action Tips (page 3)
Is it possible to raise independent-minded kids in this highly commercialized culture?
We think so. Our Kids and Commercialism Campaign is helping parents learn more about the effects of advertising and marketing on kids and providing practical tips to deal with this growing problem. Many tips for parenting in this commercial culture have been suggested by web surfers.
We'd like to hear your ideas, too:
What else might parents, teachers &/or good old public citizens do to block commercialism targeting kids and to support non-commercial activities and spaces for children? Please feel free to address all levels of action: family, community, state, or national. Also, commentary from parents who have switched gears midway would be greatly appreciated, i.e. Is it harder to turn off the TV when your kid is 10 years-old vs. 2-years-old, and if so, how did/do you deal with that?
What are good strategies for addressing the "GIMMES," what marketers refer to as the "nag factor"? As a parent, do you ever feel guilty that you might be hindering your kid' social acceptance at school, by not giving in to the latest clothing or toy fad? How do you deal with these competing emotions and what do you tell your child?
Please email us your ideas and tips, and we'll share them with everyone else by posting them on this web page. Thanks for your help!
Send your tips to email@example.com or Parenting Tips - Center for a New American Dream / 6930 Carroll Avenue / Takoma Park, MD 20912
Some General Tips
- Get rid of the TV.
- Expose kids to other media - surrealist films, conceptual art exhibits (carefully selected), gatherings of interesting adult friends with non-mainstream stories to tell.
- Remove the logos from clothes, theirs and yours. Talk with kids about why you're doing this. Suggest to kids to design their own, personal logos.
- See a wonderful passage on commercialism and consumerism by Brian Swimme
- Parents who resist consumerism for themselves are the ones who teach their children to resist it.
- Teach children to be doers and creators rather than shoppers and buyers.
- Supply them with sidewalk chalk, old cardboard boxes and other makings of creative play.
- Grow your own food. Involve the kids. Teach your child of the connections within the natural world. Experience their beauty together. Talk about where things come from, who made them, what they are made of.
- Teach by example and conviction a set of values that allow kids to make their own choices.
- Teach kids empathy for others. Instead of buying toys, suggest they spend the money bringing some groceries to the local food bank.
More Tips from our Website Visitors:
Next birthday, give a special child in your life a "happening" instead of a toy. A "happening" is a card redeemable for a fun outing just for the child. They may choose a movie, a sports event, a play, a trip to the art museum, or whatever kind of special time they would enjoy. (This was always my favorite Christmas gift from a family friend, and it was something to look forward to after all the wrapping paper was gone.) -- Lauren Cary, North Carolina
At our house, the TV gets turned off if a commercial is not muted. Not only does this keep them from at least hearing the "hype", many times they lose interest in the TV and go do something else before the show is over if they don't have the "entertainment" from the commercial. We have a rule while shopping - we don't buy things we didn't plan for. Thus if something is truly wanted (and not just an impulse because it is seen in the store) it can be discussed ahead of time and there is some time for the desire to wane. Occasionally we do make impulse purchases, but the rule is only one per outing - no matter how many stops we have to make. This makes them really weigh whether or not they want the first thing they see or if maybe they might see something better later in the trip. --Name withheld
Just my two cents. In Norfolk, VA, one of our public schools had a visit from Pres. Clinton. On a local public radio station there was much acclaim over the young student wearing a new uniform. I think we are missing a golden opportunity to teach our children about the choices of clothing they wear. Perhaps even let them decide why they made their choices in the first place. A little media literacy education goes a long way. Uniformity leads to conformity. If we do not teach and respect our children to think for themselves we are going to end up with a country of lemmings following each other over a cliff. (Yikes! A metaphor a little too close to reality). Why do we not allow our children to question the "authority" of the consumer culture? Who's ultimately ending up parenting our children? --Rick, Norfolk, VA
In the 70's, during the energy crisis, my husband and I started a thing called Pioneer Night. On that night there was no TV and no lights on. We burned our kerosene lamp. It was one way that we conserved energy. Of course we did other things like recycle aluminum, etc. I think we will return to Pioneer Night. What if everyone in the US did it once a week. I wonder how much we would save? -- Amy, Poway, CA
Reprinted with the permission of the Center for a New American Dream. © New American Dream.
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