Emergency Attitude

Launch a short-term period of denial and deprivation to show your kid that he can actually do without having more of everything. Agree that you—and other family members—will make no nonessential purchases for an agreed-on time. For example, for younger kids, you might eliminate daily treats like candy or toys. For older kids no CDs, DVDs, cute things to wear, accessories, sport shoes, or makeup.The point is to show that constant material acquisition is an addictive habit, and you can get along perfectly well without all this stuff.

Have you noticed that we seem to have a lot of greedy kids these days? The general public agrees and feels that increased numbers of today's youth are self-centered, spoiled, greedy, and materialistic. Instead of being appreciative of what they have, these critters seem to want more, more, more. Kids' ravenous, never-satisfied manner certainly drains a checkbook, but something even more dangerous happens: greediness vaporizes their hearts and souls.

Think about it: if you incessantly prioritize your own wants and desires and put others' needs and feelings on hold, your life outlook is inevitably affected. More often than not, the message learned is that relationships are far less valuable than self and material possessions acquired. The bottom line is that steady dosages of greediness are shattering to our kids' character.

Raising kids in such a materialistic, greedy world doesn't help matters. It isn't easy resisting advertisers who taunt kids to buy-buy-buy, which perhaps is why data reveal that many kids are becoming more consumer driven and at much younger ages. There's big pressure to buy everything that their friends may have bought, as well keeping up with trends that require that they get the latest styles of shoes, cell phones, DVD players, and other electronic gadgets.We're even told that we must buy more to improve our economy, as if consumerism were a crucial part of patriotism.

One of the biggest causes of greediness is the one we hate admitting most: too often we parents have obliged our kids' every whim. Sure, we want our kids to be happy and have what they desire, but motivating them with bribery is a destructive style of parenting, and giving them more than they need just to keep up with the Joneses is equally toxic. In the end, we must keep true to one real parenting goal: raising kids who are satisfied with themselves and recognize the joy of others. So if your child appears to have a case of the "gimmes," always puts himself first, and isn't appreciative of what he has, it's time for a serious makeover. Start today by beginning a long-term commitment to inspire frugality, altruism, and generosity.

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