how to raise a grateful child
BY REBECCA JOHNSTON
How to raise a grateful child. It feels like a constant barrage of ads are always telling us what we need to buy and give in order to be happy… social media only amplifies this onslaught, and worse, it impacts our kids in a big way.
With this huge focus on consumerism, it’s super hard for kids today to escape the strong desire to ‘get more stuff’ around the holidays! We’re definitely not immune to this in our family but we’ve adopted some useful practices over the years that help keep us focused on what’s important.
give experiences instead of gifts
It’s so important to me that my kids learn we can express love and build incredible memories through time together, not material things. This was a lot easier when my kids were younger, but it gets harder and harder as they get older and more exposed to marketing, especially on social media.
In this new tech era, our kids are more connected and therefore more exposed to all the new and shiny products/gadgets/clothes on social media. I struggle most with my 12-year-old daughter who sees it all on Instagram. In my house, the conversation is ongoing about how Instagram is usually just a manufactured highlight reel of someone’s real life!
We’ve also talked a lot about ‘sponsored content’ (aka advertisements) and how pervasive it is in our social media feeds. The challenge is that, even though my daughter knows the difference between an ad, a highlight reel and a genuine social media account, the pressure to consume is still there.
how to teach your child the value of money
So how do we keep our kids from developing an unhealthy relationship with consumerism?
Well, we talk about money – like a lot. Yup, we talk to our kids about money all the time. Not in a super serious or overly analytical way, but just through our day-to-day conversations.
When I was a kid I wasn’t taught how money/debt worked. I mean back in the day no one talked about money because it was a taboo topic. This only leads to shame and dysfunction around money. Now, if my kids do ask for something, we will usually have a conversation about how much it costs and what are they willing to do to help pay for it.
For example… my 12 year has to pay for 1/2 of her cell phone bill every month. This means she is aware of exactly how much it costs and how much babysitting her younger sister she has to do to pay for the privilege of having a phone. With our younger daughter, we talk to her about how much things cost at the grocery store. She’s really into baking these days, so we’ll often calculate just how much money it costs to make a really nice cake.
These aren’t lectures or shame-based conversations. Just regular conversations where money takes centre stage.
the benefits of spending time with your child
Beyond a focus on experiences over stuff and encouraging healthy conversations about money, we also take time to disconnect online and reconnect spiritually. One way we do this is through our family
meditation practice (yes, it’s often met with eye-rolling from the kids!).
I leave it up to them to join me and my husband in this practice, but it’s always available and most nights they join us. Spending this time together becomes even more special during the holidays when there’s extra stress and pressure to do more and buy more.
Meditation has allowed me to shift my energy and priorities around the holidays which also trickles down and allows me to model better behaviour for my kids. I stress less and make more conscious decisions when I take better care of my wellness and health.
Editor’s note: Read Rebecca’s meditation article here.
You don’t have to sit down with your kids to meditate every night to make this happen. But consider what you can do to shift the focus of the holidays to experience and connection over getting more stuff?
Holidays really are the best time of the year to start having these conversations with your kids! Highlight what’s important, have open conversations about wants and needs, and show your kids by leading by example. They’ll catch on if you model healthy consumer habits and conscious holiday shopping!
Rebecca Johnston is a fitness professional, blogger, Barre Fitness instructor and founder of Be Naturally Fit, an online business and her personal brand. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband and two daughters.
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