Last week I took my son to the dollar store and let him pick out a treat. Then we headed to Chapters to pick out a book for a friend’s birthday party. Despite receiving a treat at the previous store, my son proceeded to ask me repeatedly to buy him another toy. He had no interest in reading books. Having to say no repeatedly and being bombarded by demands really took the fun out of the trip. This lead me to think:
How do you raise a non-materialistic child?
1). Limit the number of toys your kids own
7% of the world’s children live in America yet they account for 40% of toys consumed globally The more we give, the higher the standards we set! Parenting in today’s world is a tough job. The more often I buy my son treats at a store, the more he asks for them while we are out. I can’t drive by a McDonalds right now without him asking to buy a Happy Meal!
As a result, I have pledged to not buy my son any treats/toys for the rest of the month. I am not punishing him, I am simply striving to encourage my son to be happy with what he has. As part of the Purge Your Entire Home course that I am working through by The Purposeful Housewife, I have sorted through all of my sons toys and gotten rid of quite a bit. Anything broken or damaged was thrown out, I donated the rest to Value Village or gave it away on our local buy nothing group on Facebook. This is a really convenient option as I simply leave it on my front porch and the person who wants the item, picks it up with 48hrs. With less toys, less clutter, kids are able to play more and their imaginations can really blossom.
2) Give experiences over toys
The satisfaction of a toy is short lived. It quickly gets thrown in the toy box with the rest of the toys and then they move on to asking for the next latest and greatest toy. Think back to your last vacation or date night with your husband, the happiness and memories from that special trip or night lasts longer than buying yourself a new shirt at the store. Experiences provide more joy and memories. They allow you to bond with your child over a hockey game, concert or day at the beach. Your time means more to your child than your money. You won’t find a price tag on a special one-on-one moment with you!
3). Provide opportunities for your kids to give back to other
When we give back to others, our focus shifts off ourselves and onto others. So often we are consumed by a self-centered perspective. This lead us to approach a situation asking what’s in it for me? The same is true for our kids. As we are parenting our kids, it’s important to emphasize giving. By doing so you are helping your child develop a heart for others. Helping those in need allows kids to feel gratitude for their blessings, for the things they own and for how fortunate they are. Our kids experience how wonder it feels to help others and to hopefully think of others before themselves (at least occasionally!).
4) Require kids to earn treats and extras
Encourage your kids to save up their allowance money to buy that special toy they have their eye on. Saving up their money teaches them to be financially responsible. It will give them a greater appreciation for the item because they know how hard they had to work to get it. My oldest wanted a pair of fancy Nike shoes (retailed for over $120) that were more than what my husband and I were willing to spend. We agreed to pay half of the cost of the shoes and he had to save up the rest. He was so excited and proud of himself, the day he had enough money to go buy them! And he treats those shoes like they are gold! He takes better care of them because he worked to earn them.
If your kids aren’t old enough for an allowance or to understand the concept of saving, simply explain to them that mom and dad don’t have money to buy toys, treats all the time and they will have to wait to get it.
5) Limit exposure to advertisements
Kids (and us adults) are easily influenced by advertisements. Unless you are like my teenager who thinks that he is the only one on this planet who is not influenced by his peers, tv, music or advertising Lol. The less television and advertising kids watch, the less they’ll take advertising as truth. They won’t feel like they need these items to have fun, friends or feel good.
Encourage conversation, let them know that ads sell items, and discuss the ways they’re doing so. Bright colors, flashy toys, smiling kids, suggesting that having the toy will make you popular, etc.
Raising a non-materialistic child isn’t about shaming the enjoyment or desire for a new toy. Instead, it is about encouraging our kids to see the world as bigger than themselves. Teaching them that their self worth isn’t tied to what they do or do not have. Their joy is not dependent on receiving the newest video game or toy. Joy is experienced in the day to day moments of life. It’s found in friendships, time with family and the great outdoors!
Do you have any tips or advice for raising a non-materialistic child in today’s world?