Don’t want materialistic children? Avoid these parenting tactics
Parents may want to reconsider using material goods to punish or reward their children.
A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research (paywall) found that some parenting behaviors and tactics can make a child more materialistic as the child becomes an adult.
Researchers surveyed more than 700 adults about their childhood circumstances, relationships with parents, and the types of punishments they had as children, reported Tree Hugger.
“Our research highlights the value of examining childhood circumstances and parenting practices to understand consumer behaviors of adults,” said researcher Marsha Richins, a professor of marketing at the University of Missouri, to Medical Xpress.
According to Boston Globe Media, the researchers concluded that three parenting strategies can especially lead to an increase in materialism: 1) rewarding a child's accomplishment by giving her a gift; 2) showing affection by giving material items, and 3) punishing a child by taking away one of her possessions, such as a favorite toy.
Richins explained that when parents use material items “kids are more likely to judge their own success and the success of other people in their lives by the kinds of possessions that they own,” reported Care2.
These materialistic attitudes and patterns can then manifest themselves later in children's lives as they become adults.
“Our research suggests that children who receive many material rewards from their parents will likely continue rewarding themselves with material goods when they are grown — well into adulthood — and this could be problematic,” said Richins as reported by Medical Xpress.
The researchers also found an association between parental rejection and materialism, according to the Business Standard.
The Business Standard reported that children who felt their parents were disappointed or too busy to spend time with them were more apt to be materialistic. The adults who received childhood material rewards and punishments were more likely to admire people who have expensive possessions.
Lan Chaplin, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration and who assisted in the study, explained that parents can use material items in moderation.
“It’s OK to want to buy things for your children, but remember to encourage them to be grateful for all the people and things they have in their lives,” said Chaplin as reported by Futurity.
Chaplin encourages healthy parent-child relationships to help avoid the development of materialistic outlooks and mindsets.
“Each time children express their gratitude, they become more aware of how fortunate they are, which paves the way for them to be more generous and less materialistic,” Chaplin said, according to Futurity. “Spend time with your children and model warmth, gratitude and generosity to help curb materialism.”
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