We have too much stuff. I do. My kids do. Most people do. In a world of excess, it’s hard to find ways to keep our children from becoming materialistic or only desiring materialistic things. Our society feeds us the idea that more is better. Our kids are bombarded with the idea that they will be cool and have more value when they have more stuff.
As a mom, I find myself doing the same thing. I compare myself to others and I’m instantly smacked in the face with all I don’t have rather than all I do. So as we all wrestle with materialistic tendencies, here are some signs your children are materialistic (the old school way to say that would be spoiled kids!) and ways to help them make changes:
1. Complaining about stuff.
Ever notice your child complaining like this? I’m bored. I have nothing to do. I don’t have anything to play with, etc. These phrases have been spoken in my house multiple times.
Typically my response is: What are you talking about? You have a room and playroom full of toys. Go find something to do.
When I hear my kids go down the spiraling road of complaining, I know they are in a place of not being content and are focused on the negative. This is when I redirect them to a place of gratitude.
When we have an attitude of gratitude, our kids will pick up on it. Being thankful for what we do have, instead of complaining about what we don’t, can teach your kids some great life lessons.
Next time you catch your child complaining about having nothing to do, ask him to look around the house and make a list of 5 things he is grateful to have. This will help shift his perspective to one of gratitude.
2. Throws a fit when they can’t have something.
I know I’m not the only mom who avoids taking my children to the store with me. I can’t get through a shopping trip without having to tell my child no about something they want me to buy.
Whether it’s in a store or after seeing the newest toy on TV, most children get a case of the “give mes.” A child might struggle with being materialistic if they throw a fit when you tell them no. Their fit shows that they feel entitled to whatever it is they are begging for, and they are disrespecting your boundary when you try to set it.
It is important to remember that giving in to the fit will only encourage the behavior to continue. This can be hard for parents. Kids are constantly asking for more, and most parents want their child to be happy. But if we give in to every ask, we are setting our kids up for a struggle.
In our family, we allow our kids to earn money to save up and buy something they want. They know that if it isn’t near their birthday or Christmas, they will have to work hard and need to use their own money to buy a new item they are wanting. This helps them value what they bought more because they had to work hard for it.
3. Won’t get rid of things.
Is your child becoming a hoarder of toys? Sometimes I am amazed what my kids hold on to when we are doing a deep clean of their rooms and clean out the playroom. If you notice that your child struggles with getting rid of things or giving things away, this could be a sign of materialism.
When I notice this with my own kids, I take the chance to teach them about giving. I know they are attached to things and may deem something extra special that I see as junk, so I approach it with an empathetic view keeping that in mind. I help my child see that they live a life that is much different than others in the world.
In our family, we have exposed our kids to the world outside of their bubble. As foster parents, our kids see how others live and the reality of poverty. Understanding that what they have is much more than many kids helps inspire them to give and let go of things they don’t need or use often. Once your children do share, print out our generosity award and present it to them.
4. They are focused more on getting the item than they are using it.
Have you ever searched for the perfect gift that your child has been begging for only to see it played with a hand full of times and forgotten about? This might mean that your child sees their value in having stuff more than a true desire to use the item. You also might notice your child bragging to his peers, trying to elevate his social position and be accepted by owning the newest thing.
If you notice your child being materialistic in this way, it is time to teach them about their worth and value being in who they are, not what they have. Click here for some ways to help build your child’s self-esteem. Help your child see the good in themselves: his kind heart, how he is willing to help when needed, and how he is a great friend. When your child starts to see that they have more to offer than what they possess, this can decrease his insecurities and help him understand that his stuff isn’t what makes him special.
Help your child see the good in themselves: his kind heart, how he is willing to help when needed, and how he is a great friend.
Have you ever struggled with being materialistic? If so, what do you wish someone would have taught you at a younger age?
Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.