How to Raise Non-Materialistic Children
A new study warns that today's children are more materialistic than previous generations, and also less likely to work hard to get what they want. (1) “While the teens are now more likely than Boomers to want a vacation home, there is a ‘growing disconnect between their willingness to do the work to pay for these things,’” said Jean Twenge, the study’s author, in a report by CNBC.
"Sorry, boomers, the researchers say it's probably your fault for creating a culture that breeds narcissism and entitlement," warns the media outlet. The study found that a lot of a child’s materialistic drive comes from their home life and what their parents model.
If you want to raise your children to be responsible, hardworking, and valuing the things in life that truly matter (and not just the fancy cars, newest smartphones and biggest houses), the latest psychological research hints at the solution.
A new report in the Journal of Positive Psychology, entitled "The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity," tackles this materialism problem. (2)
In the report’s first study, more than 900 children and teenagers who had a “grateful deposition” were rated to be less materialistic. And in a second study, asking children and teens to do habits that increased their gratitude, such as writing in a gratitude journal, “significantly reduced materialism among adolescents and [its] negative effect on generosity.”
The results were quite profound: “Using real money and donation as a behavioral measure, we found that adolescents who kept a gratitude journal donated 60% more of their earnings to charity compared to those in the control condition.”
So what does this mean for you as a parent?
It’s not enough to simply tell your children they should give to a good cause or be thankful. Through both actions as well as things you say, model this behavior. For example, around the dinner table every evening, you may wish to share what you were grateful for in that day and ask your kids to do the same.
You can also encourage your children to do things that build their sense of gratitude and giving. This may include gratitude journals, thankfulness lists, and volunteering for a good cause.
By instilling a sense of gratitude, you can help your children to buck the statistical trend and not end up being as materialistic as their peers.
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