Fighting The Materialism Battle With Self Esteem

One of the things that I like to do, which I find helps me anticipate and therefore better plan for the ongoing developmental changes in my children, is to stay I touch with current information and research on issues of child development. Whilst cruising the net this week, I came across an article titled Curbing the “gimme” syndrome. The article reinforced to me the importance of ensuring that my kids have a strong sense of self. It discussed a study which looked at how materialism develops in children.

Lan Nguyen Chaplin (assistant marketing professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) co-authored a study which was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research . The study identified a critical phase in children’s self esteem which modern jargon now defines as “tweens” (8 to 13). Due in part to changes of a physical nature that are occurring with the children, there is a significant drop in self esteem across these years. The tendency for children to turn to material goods during this time is quite high. But if a

“child has a stronger sense of self during these down-swings, the researchers believe, they’re less likely to see material goods as the key to happiness and popularity.”

As I look around me and I see more and more materialism creeping in to the precious domain of childhood, it is great to know that as a parent there is something that I can do to try and prevent my kids from finding their sense of worth through what they own. This does not mean heaping them with empty praise, as this has been found to actually have a detrimental effect on self esteem. But by supporting them, valuing their input and avoiding labeling them, I can help them understand their worth in this world.
Other references for self esteem in children:

How Not to Talk to Your Kids – The inverse power of praise

Parenting and Child Health (South Australian Government) Defines Self esteem and tips for parents.

Early Childhood Australia – Links page on Self esteem and Confidence, guides for parents etc.