How do we as parents get our kids back from the clutches of materialism. Over the past several years as a therapist I have noted that children/teens are becoming more and more entitled. What I mean by this is that kids want what they want when they want it!! When parents bring their children in for counseling more often than not it is for behavioral problems, especially when their children are in elementary school or younger. As children get older, they become more and more exposed to television and what is being advertised on commercials. Everything they see on TV is a “must have it.” They seem to want more and more stuff that is being advertised and they are trying to keep up with what everyone else at school has as well. All kids want to fit in with their peers, however the way to do this is not by having what everyone else at school has. What I hear parents generally say is, if my kid goes into a store and they don’t get what they want or they hear the word “no” they throw a fit right there in the middle of the store or they sulk for hours. Alot of children will even go as far as hitting, kicking, and throwing things in order to get what they want. More often than not parents will give in and buy their child what they are whining for and have only reinforced the child’s behavior problems. So how do we prevent kids from being so materialistic in today’s age of immediate gratification. Nobody seems to want to wait for what they want and they want everything “right now.” As parents we need to try and get our children back from being so materialistic, “stuff” really does not bring happiness.
What can we do as parents:
1.) All kids learn by modeling behaviors/actions. This means that parents must set the right example. Parents must also wait for what they want to show their kids that no one gets everything they want all the time. Take your child shopping with you on a regular basis and avoid buying yourself or them anything other than what you went to the store to get. Just because they want the newest video game does not mean you have to get it for them.
2.) Take your child to places where people are less fortunate and have them volunteer their time. There is nothing more humbling than seeing someone less fortunate than you and serving others. Younger children especially do not understand the concept that everyone does not have food and shelter and lots of people in the world are truly struggling. This will help put things in perspective for your child and hopefully will instill a sense of gratitude and thankfulness for what they do have. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
3.) Spend time with your child and turn off that television. Kids are increasingly spending more and more of their day watching television, texting, playing video games. A majority of kids spend the better portion of their day tied to technology. If your child is watching commercial after commercial that advertises “things they must have”, then it will be harder to convince them that they don’t truly need all of that “stuff.”
4.) Practice telling your child “no you can’t have that.” Delayed gratification is a key in teaching our children about disappointment. Your other family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles should also be told to not buy your child things that they ask for. Just because your child goes into a store does not mean that they should leave the store with something. Yes, when you first tell them “no” they will throw a tantrum in the store, however they will eventually get used to not getting everything they want all of the time.
5.) Lastly, we must teach our children about money. Children that are in elementary school understand the concept of money and have them pay for things for themselves with their own money. If you go into a store with them and they want something, make them pay for it with their money. If they don’t have enough money, then they should not get what they want. Teach them how to budget when they are young.