Since advertising first seeks to create a need, and then to fill it, we need to teach our children how to spend money to avoid consumerism. Here are some ways to help you do just that.
1. Give them exposure to poverty. Show and teach them about poverty whether it’s around the world or your own community. My views on materialism have been significantly impacted by my exposure to places where running water and electricity is a luxury.
2. Emphasize the relationship between work and money. Even if your kids don’t need to work for money, encourage them to work as a volunteer.
3. Establish a healthy foundation long before they become teenagers. The best foundation is established by your example. If you’re a parent of younger children, make decisions now that will best prepare them for the bombardment in the future of materialism and its pressure.
4. Encourage them to give. Require and encourage your kids to give. The goal is to help them develop a healthy habit of generosity.
5. Give your child some spending flexibility. They may spend more money on certain items than you would feel comfortable. But it’s part of becoming an adult. Try not to control each purchase as long as they’re staying within their budget.
6. Let them hear you say no.
7. Compliment and encourage your children. When kids realize they are valuable for who they are, they are less likely to make purchases to feel valuable.
8. Have some financial transparency. Don’t have every money discussion without them. Though we want to protect our kids from adult concerns, we also need to let them know the reality of our financial situation. Young money problems often become adult money problems.
9. Have a discussion on handling money. Try reading a good book together, then asking questions. Listen closely then teach them how to make a budget. If you’re not good at budgeting, it’s a great opportunity to learn together.
10. Help them establish spending guidelines. This could be item specific limitations – don’t spend more than x on a pair of sneakers or y on a pair of jeans. Make sure your child knows and understands the reasons behind the guidelines. Set guidelines like, don’t buy anything over $25 until you have waited a day. This will help curb impulse shopping.
11. Model everything. If you want your kids to wait a day before buying an item, do the same. What we do is more powerful than what we say.