Materialistic children may act less generous and more financially irresponsible than their peers. Thankfully there are ways you can avoid having materialistic children, according to recent research.
Materialistic Children Have Less Supportive Parents
In a study of tweens and teens, parents who were emotionally unsupportive had more materialistic children than supportive parents. Self-esteem is key to understanding this finding. Supportive parenting increases adolescents' self-esteem. The higher a child's self-esteem, the less likely they are to look to items to bring them happiness and a sense of worth; they get their self-worth from relationships, instead. Therefore, supportive parenting leads to higher self-esteem which leads to lower materialism.
Materialistic Children Have Less Supportive Friends
Similar to the findings about parents, the support of peers is also important for counteracting materialism. In the study, kids with supportive friends had higher self-esteem and, in turn, fewer materialistic beliefs. "Supportive friends" are those who are understanding, who help out in times of need and who do not get angry or upset for no reason. Supportive friends also avoid relational aggression and subtle bullying. Encouraging your child to find and maintain these types of friendships may help your child think less materialistically.
Materialistic Children Often Have Materialistic Parents
Your own behavior also affects how much goods and money matter to your child. Children learn by watching, so if they see you valuing money as a source of happiness, they are likely to do the same. In addition, the researchers discovered that the more materialistic a parent was, the lower their child's self-esteem. Since low self-esteem is linked to higher materialism, it follows that materialistic parents had materialistic children.
Materialistic Children Also Have Materialistic Friends
Similarly, the attitudes and behaviors of peers affect materialistic beliefs. The researchers found that adolescents with materialistic friends had lower self-esteem and, in turn, higher materialism themselves. Encouraging your child to find supportive friends who don't put a high value on money and things may therefore help your tween avoid being consumed by consumption.
Chaplin, Lan Nguyen and John, Deborah Roedder. Interpersonal influences on adolescent materialism: A new look at the role of parents and peers. Journal of Consumer Behavior. 2010. 20: 176-184.