How to steer your offspring away from their obsession with things and the belief that these bring joy and success.

Your child is growing up today with more games and gadgets than you ever saw when you were growing up. So, it’s no surprise that you find it hard to show junior that owning more stuff doesn’t mean that she’s more happy.

Nor does it help that junior is exposed virtually 24/7 to advertisements on TV and social media about the latest gizmos. So, they nag you to get the latest IT device or game their pals are already playing with. Before you know it, junior’s possessions have come to embody his or her self-worth and esteem.

Insights Mind Centre psychologist Daniel Koh notes that owning too much stuff can also influence your child to be driven and motivated only by financial incentives. “Such a focus can also lead your child to choose not to depend on himself or his abilities but rather focus on physical and external attractiveness.”

Material things don’t instil strong virtues like delayed gratification and empathy in your kids ― vital values that will serve them well in life.


Worse, material things don’t instil strong virtues like delayed gratification and empathy in your kids ― vital values that will serve them well in life. Koh says, “These values stay within the person and can applies to all aspects of life while one’s possessions can come and go with little meaning or use.” To teach them these critical principles:

1. Lead by example Your children will follow in your footsteps, repeating whatever you say or do. When you obsess about buying a new car or yet another piece of jewellery, this will lead them to think that these items determine one’s status in life. Show restraint and avoid making flashy purchases in your child’s presence.

2. Talk to them about what’s happening in the world Expanding junior’s world view allows them to understand that there are other children who are growing up in less fortunate circumstances. You could try to inspire her to think of ways in which we can help those in need. Even something as simple as caring for the environment and choosing to recycle, helps!

3. Visit a less affluent destination If your child’s school is offering exchange or volunteer programmes to developing countries, sign them up. Or organise a trip to such a destination yourself ― it’ll put things in perspective for your kiddo that many families are living on much, much less than what she has.

4. Donate to support a child living in a third-world country With attractive exchange rates, your young ’un won’t have to sacrifice too much of her pocket money to help a less-fortunate counterpart. She’ll learn that it doesn’t take a lot of money to help others or make them happy. Also, this should drive home the message that she is blessed with much more than what others have got.

Read on to learn four more helpful tips!


5. Create experiences instead of buying things for them
Experiences leave a more lasting impression than a receiving a shiny new plaything. Your kiddo will likely forget the novelty of owning the new iPhone far sooner than the memory of hiking through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with you. The emotional experience of sharing the experience with you ― yes, even the heat, humidity and insect bites! ― won’t easily be forgotten.

6. Start a gratitude journal Get a simple notebook and have junior fill up each page daily with three things that she is grateful for. Why not join in and make it a family affair. Focusing on the bright side to life also builds happiness and positivity — vital skills to help them through whatever challenges they may face in life.

Experiences leave a more lasting impression than a receiving a shiny new plaything.

7. Don’t organise lavish parties Throwing your kid an extravagant birthday party reinforces self-importance rather than empathy — she’ll only expect more with each year. A simple affair with family and close friends should suffice. You can even go a step further and request presents for junior below a certain budget.

8. Encourage your child to save up for her wants By merely giving your kid the items on her birthday or Christmas wish list, she’ll never appreciate how much the new toy costs. Get her to start saving for the things she wants — so that she learns about budgeting. Sweeten the deal by paying her a small amount for completing specified tasks or by doing well in an exam.

Photos: iStock

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