There’s no sound quite like that of a toddler who wants something they’re not allowed to have. “Can I get a…Why can’t I have a…? I wanna…!” Did I create this little monster? Well, yes, but with a lot of support from big retailers and my neighbors who seem to have everything.
While we can take steps to limit our children's exposure to rampant consumerism (consider leaving them home on Black Friday), there is no way to completely block the pressures of our consumer-driven world.
The good news is we can help our children understand that “things” are not the source of life’s happiness.
Time and time again research shows that materialism is associated with less social cooperation and even decreased happiness. So, helping our kids understand that will have lifelong benefits.
- Try to find opportunities to emphasize the fun of shared experiences, cooperation, and great relationships. Children might need help understanding that the memories created while playing games together will last longer than the memory of playing with the newest barbie or action figure.
- Another important thing you can do is practice gratitude. It doesn’t have to be every day, but when we regularly take a moment to be grateful for the things we have, we may find that our appetite for new and shiny things decreases.
- No matter what efforts we make, when the pace of these “can-I-get-a” questions increases, we all struggle for a sane response. Sometimes I just want to answer with a certain Rolling Stones song (cue “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”). Instead, our advice is to gently emphasize (and practice) the pleasure appreciating the well-loved things you already have.
- When the holiday season comes around, why not try a “one in, one out” agreement? In other words, any new toy your child has to replace an old one. Together, go through toys and games and decide which ones can be donated to charity.
- Next time your child says “I wanna, I needa…!” surprise them by saying: “a hug?” And you know what you’re giving them is invaluable.
Here is a very interesting Ted Talk regarding about consumerism and children you may also like!: