A new study from marketing professors at the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois reveals that there are, in fact, three easy ways to position your child for a lifetime of materialism and possible misery. Read on for some ways to raise materialistic children so you can avoid this.
You Encourage Materialistic Children by:
1. Rewarding kids with gifts when they do something positive, like making the baseball team, getting a good report card, or not having a meltdown at a restaurant.
2. Using gifts to show affection.
3. Taking away a favorite toy for punishment.
Not shockingly, the study, Material Parenting: How the Use of Goods in Parenting Fosters Materialism in the Next Generation, found that when parents used material objects as emotional weapons, their kids were more likely to define their worth based on possessions. This has negative long-term repercussions, too: The study’s authors note that materialistic people are at higher risk for troublesome adult issues like gambling, marital woes, and debt.
Of course, that’s not all: Kids who felt rejected or overlooked by their parents appear more likely to take comfort in material things. And people who got material rewards and material punishments as kids are more likely to become adults who admire people with lots of stuff. (The researchers surveyed more than 700 adults, some of whom are possibly still traumatized over not collecting the full set of Garbage Pail Kids, on a variety of childhood circumstances.)