How to Raise Less Materialistic Kids
Model the Values and Plant the Seeds for a better tomorrow
The holiday fun is over. Gifts especially toys invade our homes. How do we control the monster of clutter taking over our physical world and our kids’ souls amidst non-stop commercials to consume, consume, consume? Parents stop and think now. While still hyped about their presents, this is the perfect time to teach kids some of our most precious values – generosity, honesty, flexibility, responsibility and compassion.
When my four-year-old son blurted out, “Will I get toys?” as I casually commented his birthday (March) is around the corner, I was surprised by his self-centeredness-give-me-more-stuff attitude.
Kids are brutally frank about their feelings, wants and wishes. We laugh when they ask unabashedly “where is my gift (or my toy)” to our faces. We can easily be regarded as gift factories - ONLY and ESPECIALLY if we let them. It is cute and funny, but only ONCE. The honesty is great. Let us not discourage the speaking of the minds.
However, we need to put them in check when we want to send a message. By not saying anything when they brazenly demand for stuff, we are saying it is OK to associate material things with people, events, occasions and feelings. The seed begins to grow. Each person is now measured by the gift/s. Mind you, we live in a material world so it is quite impossible to be non-materialistic. Let’s just be honest about it.
Here comes the challenge: Turning our material world into a more divine realm, more meaningful, internally satisfying and value-enhancing space for us and for others. If we want to raise less materialistic kids and a conscientious succession of generations, we may need to be vigilant about how our children understands the material world and consumerism.
If we want a better world, a lasting legacy, we must MODEL the following traits for our children to emulate. After all, the best way for our children to learn is through our actions. The only side effect is a more-environmentally-friendly child. The less they consume the more resources are conserved and preserved. They learn to appreciate our material world at the same time practice time-honored cross-cultural values. The valuable G.I.F.T.S we should strive for would help make them less materialistic.
G – Generosity. Be generous of your time, space and money to those most important to us. We demonstrate and strive to live the word love. Remember love is a verb. When kids get in their selfish modes, we need to stop and say “It’s more fun to share. Don’t keep things to yourself.”
I – Integrity. All we have to do is watch a few minutes of the NEWS and webcasts on the goings of the world to get a quick bite of our bitter reality. From our politicians to journalists and authors, there seems to be a dearth in truthfulness, reliability and uprightness lately. The world desperately needs you and me and the next generation to turn the current state of affairs, 360 degrees – honor still rules! Do what you say you will do and mean what you say. Kids keep tabs on these.
F – Flexibility. Start to be creative and flexible in your budget. Learn to manage your time and funding sources well. We get sidetracked and blinded as we keep up with the Joneses. We become driven to buy on credit. We need to have iphone 5 now! even if we barely survive on a paycheck to paycheck basis because everyone has it. “I got to have it,” is the mantra. Well, it’s time to say, “I don’t need to have it. I’m happy with what I have. It does everything I need at this moment.” Begin teaching kids to save and budget their allowance or money gifts. Never too early to start them how to prioritize and budget.
Get them to do this with every dollar they receive:
Divide the money into thirds:
1/3 for the piggy bank
1/3 for anything they want
1/3 for donations, charity, gifts or assistance
T – Trustworthy. Be responsible and consistently dependable, plain and simple. Having children makes you want to be a saint and a perfect model. When commercialism is our daily staple, it becomes easier to associate success and happiness with the material world and harder to recognize that “honesty is still the best policy.”
S – Sympathy. Show compassion, understanding and kindness to others. Avoid comments that maybe inconsiderate. Remember children see and hear everything we say and do. Be supportive of people. Studies have shown that parents who practice tough love, consistent discipline and insistence on good behavior generally have children who are better behaved with greater sympathy towards others.
Plan to implement the following NOW to develop less consumerism.
1) Develop a project together using knick knacks or found items from places you visit and sentimental little stuff your family wants to keep. Frame it.
2) Find parks near and around your neighborhood to explore and events to attend. Save gas and time. Help local economy.
3) Tank the Television. Less exposure to commercials the better. Look for your local commercial-free channels funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting locally known as the PBS channels.
4) Join a volunteer or service-based organization such as Habitat for Humanity, Rotary International, Kiwanis, and Jaycees and expose your kids to the activities. All these organizations have great projects locally and internationally.
5) Involve them in groups or team-building activities to build their self-esteem and identities.
6) Play board games as a family. Learn or teach kids long-lasting hobbies such as crocheting.
7) Go fishing. Plant trees. Learn something new each year as a family. Unicycle. Hoola-hoop.
The list is endless for free or low-budget activities to curb materialism and satisfy your kids' inner world, thirst for learning, and curiosity. Just please don't add go to the mall and window shop.
Your children will thank you, be proud of you, and follow your steps when they reach adulthood. My parents were members of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber) and planted the value of networking and civic duty early on amongst us siblings. Thanks to them, I’ve been involved since my high school years with different organizations, from Catholic action clubs to local non-profit organizations, with the sole purpose of volunteering, serving and of course having fun. My Rotary Club (District 5280) membership with its motto “Service Above Self” keeps my tinges of selfishness in check. Service is enriching and rewarding.
© 2012 VidaLovesLife