How often do you hear people comment on how lucky the current generation is? They have wonderful, exciting toys, beautiful clothing and literally anything they want blahblahblah… “I played with sticks and stones when I was your age and didn’t have new clothes until they were completely worn through and re-patched a hundred of times.” The rise of technology and cheap manufacturing has meant that it is highly accessible for households and individuals to purchase and replace materialistic possessions with a click or a tap. So…
Are we creating a generation of materialistic monsters?
A joint study from the University of Missouri and The University of Illinois in Chicago showed that there are three parenting approaches that make children more materialistic.
- Removing your child’s possession as punishment.
- Showing your love for them by buying them presents.
- Rewarding your child with a gift when they have accomplished something.
Hands up if you have done any of the above?
Guilty as charged!
Apparently, all of the above three methods will make children use material goods to define whether a person is successful or not, and these sets of values will continue to grow with them. I’ve noticed that #JasperBean repeats more and more that “mummy needs to work so she can buy lorry, buy dinosaur, buy aeroplane” etcetc, and this is entirely my fault. I say these things to try and make him (me?) feel better when I have to leave him at nursery to go to work. It’s almost telling him that if mummy doesn’t work, he won’t get anything. This is not my intention, I know in saying this and doing such actions will have an effect. It’s a quick and easy distraction to get out of a situation that could end up with him crying his little eyes out! But I didn’t know how it could affect him so deeply today and in the future. So this must change! I must change.
So how can we raise non materialistic children?
Researcher Lan Chaplin reminds parents that “It’s OK to want to buy things for your children, but remember to encourage them to be grateful for all the people and things they have in their lives.” She says, “Each time children express gratitude, they become more aware of how fortunate they are, which paves the way for them to be more generous and less materialistic. Spend time with your children and model warmth, gratitude and generosity to help curb materialism.”
4 Easy Steps
I don’t claim to know exactly what to do and this is still a work in progress for me. However, from the above quote and research. I believe the following steps will introduce the idea of what relationships between people and experiences are and how they are a whole lot more meaningful and valuable than the latest gadget or toy money can buy.
Be their role model
You and I know this already, but I must reiterate. We need to practice what we preach. If we shop to impress, then our child will follow suit. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. What we do screams louder than anything we say. Having said that, we also need to be very careful with what we say. A harmless comment about the latest smart phone, neighbours new car, fashionable pieces etc and that will give them the impression that these high status items are a must have, because mummy and daddy implies so.
We can all be grateful, but I have started to make it a habit for myself and #JasperBean to express what we have been grateful for that day. I know he is a little young to grasp this concept, and it probably wont be until he’s about 6 years+ before he can look outside of “me”. However, just expressing what I am grateful for will pave the way for him to grow in gratitude. Something simple such as being grateful for the lovely weather, food on our table, hugs and kisses and willingness to share and give will hopefully help him develop in a positive way.
Reward with time
We as parents can be very busy with work and often, we may compensate for our lack of presence with material goods. However, what my child craves more is physical contact and undivided attention. So I am making that conscious effort to put away my laptop, smart phone, tablet and spend some quality time together down at the local park, museum or somewhere that we’ve never been before. Creating memories and rewarding him with shared experiences is priceless.
Teach children to help others
Teaching children to help others will shift their focus from “me” to “them”. This will get them thinking about what the needs of other people are and how they can help. More time thinking of others means less time thinking of themselves and their wants.
If your children are old enough to have their own money, then teach them to look after it. The easiest arrangement I have found, even for myself as an adult is to save a little,spend a little and give a little. By focusing on giving, we are helping our children develop compassion for others and decrease their desire for possession.
What other ways do you teach your children to be less materialistic and more generous?
Thanks for reading and until next time…
Love, MsMamaBean x
University of Missouri-Columbia. “Certain parenting tactics could lead to materialistic attitudes in adulthood.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2014.