Parenting Solutions: Materialistic (page 2)
Is greedy and unsatisfied, unappreciative and ungrateful, overly brand conscious; bases her self-worth on what she owns; always wants more; spends impulsively
The Change to Parent For
Your child recognizes that what she owns does not bring happiness, puts a stronger value on relationships, and reduces her emphasis on material goods.
Question: "My son is six but already has a list of all the brand names and can quote almost every TV commercial for the stuff he wants us to buy for him. How can parents counter materialism in such a consumption-driven world?"
Answer: Television commercials have been proven to fuel materialism, so your first important task is to reduce the influence of those ads on your child's perceptions. Here are a few simple solutions. Hit the mute button on your television remote and talk to your child whenever those commercials are on. Turn him toward more commercial-free television shows, or even TiVo his "have-to-see" favorite so he can cut out the commercials altogether (you can teach him how) and fast-forward to the show. And teach your child how to resist those marketer's messages by playing the "What are they trying to sell?" game the second a commercial airs. Once kids learn that the motive of those ads is all about company profit and not their benefit, the product's desirability suddenly drops. And if a celebrity is the product's spokesperson, don't miss the chance to say, "I wonder how much she got paid to do that ad?" Helping our kids become more media literate may be the one strategy we've overlooked to curb their materialism.
One Simple Solution
Turn Off the TV (No Kidding!)
Did you know that the average American child is exposed to forty thousand advertising messages each year and that corporations spend $15 billion annually advertising and marketing to kids up to age twelve?45 Research also shows that the fewer commercials kids see, the less materialistic they become. When kids' TV viewing was cut by one-third, they were 70 percent less likely than their peers to ask parents for a toy the following week.46 So monitor your kids' TV time, steer their viewing habits toward public television, pop in a video, or simply turn off the TV!
In one poll, 89 percent of adults reported feeling that today's youth are far more materialistic and consumption-driven at much younger ages than previous generations.47 In fact, two-thirds of mothers say that their kids ask for specific brands before the age of three.48 Of course, raising kids in such a materialistic world, with advertisers constantly taunting children to buy-buy-buy, doesn't make matters easier. But let's face it: the biggest reason our kids are so darn materialistic is that we've allowed it. We've obliged their every whim, bought them only the best name brands, and tried motivating them to "do good" by rewarding them with possessions.
Sure, we do it because we want our kids to be happy and have what they desire, but the latest research shows that our good intentions are backfiring. Instead of being satisfied, kids with the materialism bug only want more and are actually less happy and less content. But even more dangerous: materialism also shatters our kids' character, sense of well-being, and outlook on life. If you're worried that your child is a little too brand conscious or materialistic, then it's time to change that attitude. This entry offers solutions to deprogram your child's materialistic streak and teach new habits that inspire charity and generosity, and help her be more appreciative of the nonmaterial everyday wonders of life.
Pay Attention to This!
Researchers say that today's American kids are "the most brand-oriented, consumer-involved, and materialistic generation in history, and top the list globally."49 Here are a few red flags about the growing spread of materialism in kids:
- More U.S. kids than anywhere in the world believe that their clothes and brands describe who they are and define their social status.50
- Ninety-five percent of adults say that kids are too focused on buying and consuming things.51
- Two out of three parents surveyed said that their kids measure self-worth more by possessions than the parents did at the same age.52
So how are your kids faring? If you're at all concerned about an unflattering trait called "materialism" taking hold of your kid, then it may be time for a serious parenting intervention.
Signs and Symptoms
Five problems—Brands Everywhere, Never-Ending Stuff, Exterior Focus, Selfish Self, and Unhappy Greed—best describe materialistic kids. Begin by thinking of your child's typical daily actions, then read the following descriptions. If even one description fits your child, it can mean that your child is slipping to the dark side of materialism. Once you recognize the signs and symptoms, you'll be in a better position to parent for change.
- Brands Everywhere. Corporations and companies work night and day to keep their brands permanently stamped on our children's consciousness. The child is a walking, talking expert on brand names. Her desires become based solely on product name, brand, or logo and not on quality or even price considerations.
- Never-Ending Stuff. The child is a consummate consumer and knows the total number of CDs, shoes, books, and any other "commodity" in her possession and announces it with pride. She rarely needs the newest item of desire—she just wants it.
- Exterior Focus. The child evaluates people and situations based strictly on exterior appearances. What matters is what they're carrying or wearing, their clothes, gadgets, or accessories. Internal qualities and traits are overlooked and irrelevant.
- Selfish Self. The child doesn't stop to consider that you may be stressed or inconvenienced by the price of the item. Everything is about her needs and desires for possessions. How hard you worked to pay for that privilege or possession is never considered. Who cares if those designer jeans cost the same as your two-week grocery bill?
- Unhappy Greed. Despite everything she owns and all that you give her, deep down your child is really not content, satisfied, or happy and just plain wants more. It's the old and true saying: the more you get, the more you want.
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