Parenting coach Julie Romanowski says greediness and materialism in children is largely a learned behaviour estimating that it’s 80 per cent learned and 20 per cent instinctual and chalks it up to a variety of influences, including parents, friends and society in general.
She says, “There are instincts within us as humans to want to constantly change to do better and have better things. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have evolved.But if we don’t put boundaries around that desire, it can easily morph into greed.”
Romanowski offers these tips for raising a child with awareness and gratitude and preventing them from turning into a gift-grabbing monster.
Instil an “attitude of gratitude”
This applies just as much to the parent as it does the child. Being grateful for what you have, and being vocal about it, is the best way to deter kids from desiring a material item merely because it’s new or their friend has been talking about it.
“This will make you reflect on yourself and helps you to be a role model for your child,” she says. “Are you materialistic? What’s your attitude around material things? Do you talk about your neighbour’s nice new car or your friend’s shoe collection? Your kid is watching you 24/7 and is soaking it all in.”
The benefit to curbing your own materialism is that it’s an ongoing model, so it doesn’t just apply to this time of year. It’ll go a long way in curbing those tendencies in kids and build skills around boundaries and expectations.
Set clear expectations of their behaviour
This is an etiquette conversation that applies year-round and involves an expectation of humbleness and modesty.
“Your child should know what kind of behaviour is expected of them and how they are to act at the time of opening a gift.”
If your child is rude or reacts negatively toward the gift or the gift-giver, it’s your responsibility as a parent to step in and correct their behaviour by restating your expectations and boundaries. If, however, your child is polite and acts positively, this should also be acknowledged.
Romanowski notes,“A lot of parents fail to do the latterChildren need positive reinforcement, not just instructions on how to behave. It’s a two-part role that has a before and an after.”
Consider eliminating Christmas lists
It’s common practice to encourage children to put together wishlists for the holidays — why else would they write to Santa? But Romanowski advises parents to tread carefully with Christmas lists since they often give children the impression that they are owed the gifts they choose.
“Lists can breed greed, and they confuse the lesson that if you work hard and are good, you’ll be rewarded,” she says.What’s worse, it can create resentment and anger in the child, who feels that their parent (or Santa) is not meeting their agenda. These are the steps that lead to materialism, greed and entitlement.
Emphasize “give-giving” instead of gift-giving
She emphasis,“Take the emphasis off getting gifts and put it on giving gifts.Even if they’re really young they can do this. A younger kid could say, ‘I’m going to give grandma a song.’ Or if you make holiday cookies, they can make one for their cousin.”
Aim to make Parenting a Joyful Experience.