In January, one of the news articles highlighted on a young schoolgirl who was told she was poor by a schoolmate because she couldn’t afford branded stationery from Smiggle, an Australian company. The parent who heard the comment was obviously saddened by the materialistic comment uttered by his daughter’s schoolmate.
Materialism is often blamed on parents for not giving enough attention to their children and to assuage their guilt, they resort to buying expensive gifts for their children.
To help parents bring out non-materialistic kids, these are some of the tips to follow:
1. Have fun together without spending much money
Children model their behaviours after the adults aka parents. Show them that there are ways to have fun without the need to shell out big bucks. This works because it’ll show them that spending money and having fun are mutually exclusive.
Activities you can do with your kids can be just singing or dancing with them. You can even paint or just enjoy a board game or a game of cards together. Another option is to make their own toys using sponges to create a bear, stuffed cloth bunny or stapled paper to make a tortoise.
2. Make gratitude a habit
A parenting psychologist, Nancy Shah, recommends parents to ask kids to name something they are grateful for every day. She does it with her kids as well. Her kids would tell her three things that happened during the day that they were grateful for.
Gratitude helps create a positive thinking habit which leads to happiness in younger children. We don’t want young children to depend on material items to remain happy. Being grateful helps to combat jealousy and greed in children.
“Materialism comes from a state of dissatisfaction or unhappiness, and looking outside yourself for happiness and fulfilment.
If we focus on creating kids who are happy and fulfilled, by definition, they won’t be materialistic,” says Shah.
3. Spend quality time instead of buying expensive gifts
Reward good behaviour and achievements by spending quality time with them such as taking them to the museum, the aquarium or a simple picnic. The point is to spend time with them instead of showering them with the latest toys or gadgets. From this, they’ll learn to value family interactions and the excitement of trying new things.
4. Watch the things you say and your behaviour
Whether we like it or not, children will follow what we do and say. If the adults are materialistic themselves, it’ll be hard to change the children. Sometimes our harmless comment on a neighbour’s new car or watch may give the impression to kids that branded or expensive items are important to happiness.
5. Teach kids to pay it forward
Have the kids help a younger sibling or peer with their homework or just cleaning up toys. Doing something kind gets children to think of ways they can help others instead of always thinking about themselves. They can also just help their grandparents carry small bags. The kids don’t need to do elaborate kind gestures to be helpful as simple ones will do the trick.
6. Visit the underprivileged kids
As children empathize with other children better, taking them on mission trips shows them that they are other children who have it harder but are still able to live a happy life.
Feature image from The Chicken Wire