MATERIALISTIC KIDS on the rise! Real #Parenting Solutions to Troubling Youth Trends–What Parents Can Do to Fix It

by | Sep 21, 2009 | Materialism, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

Michele Borba

Note to Readers: Last week I spoke with Meredith Viera on TODAY about five troubling youth trends. Each trend is hitting our kids at younger ages and each trend is increasing. And no trend is doing our kids any favors. These trends are clearly impacting our kids emotional health and character. The best news is that there are research-based solutions to turn each troubling trend around. Here is the third in our series of troubling youth trends: Materialism, and what research says will work best to solve the problem–what parents really can do. 

REALITY CHECK: Sure, it’s a recession, but it doesn’t mean our kids still aren’t money conscious and it starts early. Almost two thirds of moms of toddlers admit their kids are already brand conscious. Today let’s take on the third in our series of troubling youth trends: MATERIALISM. 

We’re all trying to save money these days, but tell that to the kids. They’re still trying to keep up with the latest trends, toys, and fashion. Despite our own money consciousness in today’s economic hardships, studies show our kids are still more materialistic than previous generations. Not only are kids more materialistic but they are also more brand conscious. Tighter times may put a damper on the wallet strings but their outlook on life still seems to be that fame & money is the golden ring to grab onto. But what’s especially troubling is a recent survey found that 89 percent of adults admit that kids are far more materialistic at younger ages than in years past. 

Of course, we love our kids are want them to have the best. But money isn’t the answer. In fact, studies also show that the more materialistic the child, the less happy she is and the lower her self-esteem. 

One of the 101 issues I address in The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is Materialism (as well as Selfish and Spoiled and Money). I’ll give you specific solutions based on the lastest research to help you turn this troubling trend around, and pronto. (Those of you with a copy of the book and following along on these makeovers with me turn ASAP to Money on page 559, roll up your sleeves and start parenting for this change).

As I wrote this book I devoured the best research and late-breaking studies to find only the best solutions for this troubling issues. I was fascinated with one study with tweens from the University of Minnesota in particular. So simple, so profound, and significant results! (What I called “Results-Driven Parenting.”)



University of Minnesota researchers found a quick solution to turn materialism around is to compliment your child’s INSIDE qualities instead of focusing on appearance or things. Simple but effective. The more those sincere, genuine, and specific compliments were geared at the child’s “inside” strengths, the less the child had to focus on purchasing things to boost their “outside” appearance. (See The Big Book of Parenting Solutions page 185 for more specific tips and dozens of other solutions.)

So to start using this simple solution, find a real and deserved quality your child deserves recognition for (maybe she is respectful, kind or fair). And then start boosting it. The study found the more you focus on a child’s inside strengths, the less the kid needs to show off what he wears or has on the outside. Your goal:


Besides common sense parenting techniques of putting away your wallet, not being afraid to say no, spending more time than money on your kids, reducing the hoarding, and watching what you model, use the science-based technique from the University of Minnesota: praise your child’s inside qualities. 

There are dozens of other simple, practical and proven solutions to counter this third troubling trend in The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. My goal is to offer dozens of strategies for you to try. Your job is to choose the one that works best for your family. And then please stick with it until you reap the change you seek. After all, your only barometer of good parenting is for your child to act right without you. That means you need to parent for REAL and LASTING CHANGE. 

If you need any other reason to put away your wallet and work on turning your kid’s materialistic streak around, read this: The University of Minnesota found that  materialistic kids are less happy, more anxious, less able to handle adversity, less generous and charitable and feel less secure and have lower self-esteem. And materialistic kids have lower opinions of their parents and argue with them more. 

Stay tuned. We’re taking on another troubling youth trend in the next blog. Meanwhile, go start complimenting your child’s inside strengths.