It's no secret that we live in a consumer society. Children are also very sensitive to this reality and it is important not to give in to all their wishes.
Nowadays, parents buy a lot more for their children than before, even too much. Several factors explain this overconsumption. On the one hand, families are smaller, and often have two incomes. However, this phenomenon is also true in separated families, where the child is sometimes en titled to toys with mum, and others with dad, two birthday parties, two Christmas parties… Moreover, some parents feeling guilty for not spending enough time with their child, will also tend to give a lot and say "yes" at the slightest whim: the perfect climate to create a child-king!
The child: the target of marketing
In addition, children are an important target for marketing companies. No wonder when you think that, even before knowing how to read, a child can manage to recognize hundreds of brands! The proof: industry spending on children's advertising jumped $100 millionin 1990, to more than 2 billion in 2000. In 2003, in the United States, the power of influence of children was estimated at 500 billion dollars. Advertisers know it: children are not afraid to ask for what they want, and to ask for it repeatedly – until the parents are disgusted… To break this cycle of consumption, it is important to act as soon as possible.
Want or Need?
This is why you must quickly make the child understand that his wishes are not orders and that, life being what it is, he must get used to not always get what he wants. Moreover, there is a real difference between a need, which is vital, and a want, which is not.
- Before giving in to his brand new fad, be sure to go see the toy (or clothing) in question at the store, to test it. You can also do an Internet search to find out what other consumers have thought of it. It's so easy to get informed these days!
- Rewards? That's good, but it's even better if they are not always "material". A home theater with popcorn, well glued, it's worth Transformers, which will gather dust in time to say it.
- Before giving in, ask him to explain why he wants this toy so much. Then see together if his reasons are good or bad.
- Be consistent: if you say no, you say no.
- Before shopping,tell your child: you will only buy what is necessary.
- Children under the age of three do not have the capacity to understand the reasons why you say no: their feelings always dominate. So you have to be tricky, changing his mind, for example.
- When they are older, they are able to understand that money does not grow on trees. As a result, you cannot afford to buy everything.
- Teach your child the value of money as early as possible. The youngest can play at the store, with a cash register. You can open a bank account for older people or invest in an RESP. Board games, like the eternal Monopoly, are also a good way to show children that money is not forever…
- Without making him read books on voluntary simplicity, explain to him that what we are, as people, is much more important than what we have.
- Don't be afraid to tell him about the consumer society we live in. Explain to him how marketing companies work, in what ways they try to sell things to him.
- If he is old enough to have pocket money and do his own shopping, ask him to wait a period of time before buying something. If he still wants it in a month, and his reasons are good, it could be a good investment.
- And so that everything is not always "no", let him choosesimple stuff: like snacks, cereals of the week… He will feel like he has decision-making power.
Of course, it can be tempting to say yes. On the one hand, it's much nicer than saying no, and secondly, it's so good to please your child. But as the wise saying goes: too much is like not enough!
You are looking at this two meter long Christmas list; Are you yourself excited at the sight of all these new toys in the shops? You must hold back at all costs. Before buying gifts, or before going shopping, make a budget and try not to exceed it. Anyway, remember that in front of too much abundance, your child will not really benefit from what he has. It is better to buy less, and to buy better. Also, avoid compulsive shopping. After all, you have to lead by example yourself, right?