6 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Materialism

In a recent post we discussed Linda Blair’s suggestions for raising unspoilt children.

A key idea was to focus on giving your kids love and attention over material possessions.

And this prompts another important question:

How do we stop our kids from becoming too materialistic?

It’s not a new dilemma, but it can be an increasingly difficult one.

While ‘back in our day’, kids would covet toys and games that they saw their friends playing with, or that were advertised on TV.

Now, kids are facing a constant barrage of advertising on the internet, from social media to web ads and even YouTube videos of other kids playing with new toys!

And if your kids use tablets or smart phones, many apps and games themselves are an advertisement for more shiny new things to envy.

The negative effects of an overly materialistic child can be far-reaching — it can be a financial strain on parents, a distraction from studies and more important developmental and social activities in kids, and can set up unrealistic expectations for adulthood.

So how can we overcome the power of constant advertising in the digital age, and curb materialism in our children?

A recent article in The New York Times suggests materialism can definitely be overcome — with the right approach.

The article cites a study involving 71 families with children who scored ‘high’ on a series of materialism tests.

Half the children received no treatment, while the other half attended group sessions that focused on allowance tracking, the idea of giving, and the connection between money and values.

After the eight-week testing period, the active group showed a marked decrease in their value for material possessions, AND an increase in their self esteem.

Given that not all of our kids have access to these kind of programs, author Ron Lieber suggests six integral ways that we can take the principles of this study and apply them at home.

Here are his suggestions for raising less materialistic kids:

  1. Give them a regular allowance, and a place to put it. Divide the money into three categories — spending, saving and giving.
  2. Have a family discussion about finances — your kids need to understand how your income and expenses affect them, and how their expenses affect your family.
  3. Make a clear distinction between wants and needs.
  4. Teach your kids to recognise what drives them to want material things, such as advertising.
  5. Find a mentor – someone who has financial smarts and manages to keep a good balance between needing, wanting and spending.
  6. Keep the money conversation going — their earnings, spending and material interests will change over the years, so their approach to it will need to as well.

So if you’re finding that your kids are getting a little obsessed with material possessions, give try these six tactics a try. (And let us know how you go!)


How can we help?

Book your initial parent consultation to get the right advice for your child's needs

Book Now »

Got any questions before you book? Click here to request a phone call and a psychologist will call you at a convenient time (prospective clients only). Please keep in mind we are often busy with clients but we do our best to respond to all enquiries within one business day. :-)

Why have 2,866* parents chosen us?

(*As of 24th July, 2019.)

  • Private and confidential: We are a private service so you will receive 100% independent and confidential advice.
  • Child and adolescent experts: We only work with school age children, teenagers and parents.
  • Education and school experts: We will help you navigate the school system to get the best possible results for your child.
  • Qualified and experienced: We only employ psychologists with a master degree or higher and experience working in schools.
  • Fast appointments: We don't keep a waiting list and see most new clients within 7 days.
  • Convenient location: We are in Middle Park with easy access from many parts of Melbourne and unrestricted street parking.
  • Trusted methods: We use approaches that are strongly supported by research evidence or clinical experience.
  • Lovely beachside office: You will love our quiet, modern and attractive office, with its beach and ocean-themed rooms.