End Materialism In Children With The Stroke Of A Pen

Walking through any major general merchandise store we are sure to pass by the dreaded toy aisle.

It is not that toys are evil in and of themselves, but it’s what that department promotes. Nobody wants their children living just to collect the next series of miniature milkshakes.

Turns out that there is a quick and easy task that can get our children to think less about the shiny, new thing and more about those around them.

A recent study shows that teaching our children gratitude will in turn lessen materialism.

Romper reported:

A paper published by the Journal of Consumer Research found that materialism encourages social isolation, which in turns encourages increased materialism. Overall, according to The Guardian, materialism has been linked with depression, anxiety, and broken relationships.”

We have already seen through empirical evidence that shows how too much screen time causes isolation and depression, as Mommy Underground has previously reported, but now we know it’s not just electronic devices that our doing damage.

Consumerism has only increased with this generation, the latest tech toys, cell phones, gadgets and gizmos has young people in a frenzy.

As Karen Williams writes in Medium, consumerism is a “bad habit”.  This is spot on.

It’s not that we need to buy our kids more things, but that we are in a habit of getting them something on pay day, or when they go to a check-up, or when it’s a holiday, or just because.

Materialism is putting possessions and comfort higher than our values or intellectual endeavors.

Equating affection with consumer goods is second nature to most American families, and that needs to change.

Materialism causes dissension, shifting focus from things above ourselves, to the things of the world, minimizing the value of human interaction.

We know scary times are afoot when you meet for a playdate and the kids just want to play the latest video game rather than go outside and play hide-and-seek.

The University of Illinois is doing some fantastic research on how gratitude affects materialism, and the results are nothing short of amazing.

In an article titled “The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity”,

Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Deborah Roedder John, Aric Rindfleisch & Jeffrey J. Froh, present two studies that prove you can decrease materialism by emphasizing gratitude.

Both studies together used 900 adolescents. Study one reported:

“a nationally representative survey showed that children and adolescents with a grateful disposition were less materialistic.”

Study two in the article reported:

experimental evidence showed that an intervention designed to increase gratitude (i.e. keeping a gratitude journal) significantly reduced materialism among adolescents and also attenuated materialism’s negative effect on generosity.”

Each participant in the study was given cash to measure behaviorally the effects of keeping a gratitude journal.

Those who kept a gratitude journal donated 60% more of the money to charity, compared to the control group.

Forbes reports on lead researcher Lan Nguyen comments regarding the results:

Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (nongenerosity) using a simple strategy — fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives.”

It’s hard to write down one memory a day as a mother, so making the time to get a reluctant teenager or child to begin this new task may seem daunting; but it’s easier than one may think.

Nguyen points out how it is “quality time” to sit with your child through this task, and that it helps you both “stay grounded”.

This doesn’t just mean to sit and watch your child write either, but to be an active participant in changing for the better.

Writing things you are grateful for may be a private matter, especially for a teenager who thinks everything is “none of your business”, so don’t force the sharing portion of the exercise.

Keep a routine time in the day that is set aside to remember all the blessings in life you have to be grateful for. In the morning or before bed are best.

Stay on top of writing at least a couple items on the list a day and watch the families attitude toward the material transform right before your eyes.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have tried this with success, or if you have a way for your family to stay focused on your values rather than your belongings.






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