There’s no getting around it: we live in a consumer society, and kids, even many 4 and 5 year olds feel that they simply have to have the right clothes, shoes and so on. It helps them feel like they fit in with their friends. Younger children may be after you for the latest game or breakfast cereal. This is because they see it advertised, or because their friends have it.
Here are several ways to help your child understand why they can’t always have everything they want:
- Explain to your child that you can’t afford everything. So, you have to spend your money on the important basic things that you need just to live, like housing, food, clothes, heat and the telephone. This doesn’t leave much money to buy things that aren’t necessary, but would just be nice to have.
- Help your child understand how it’s more important to be a good person than to have expensive things.
- Talk about how TV, movies and magazines don’t show how people really live and explain that not everyone has all the things you see on TV shows.
- Talk with your child from an early age about the commercial, consumer-driven society we live in. You can explain that people who make toys and clothes want us to buy the ones that they make, but that we have to pick and choose the ones we want and can afford very carefully. Tell your child about the values that really matter.
- You can also try to involve your child in choosing items that affect them, such as breakfast cereal, so that they can have some feeling of being in control. And talk to your child about ways to work to earn some money for things they really want.