Reflections on Consumerism and Raising the Petites

My Sunday morning was spent drinking a cup of tea and reading about this amazing Mom in Britain: Hattie Garlick.  She created this blog to chart her journey of a year of opting out of “kid consumerism” after reading about her journey, it really got me thinking and reflecting on my spending for the petites and what it means and the implications of kid consumerism.

I reflected about the money that we spend on “things” (as you can see, the petite doesn’t lack things) , how going Target to get the necessities can mean spending close to a hundred bucks and how many of those bucks are spent on things that we don’t need, that aren’t nourishing foods, are poorly made, or just simply over indulgent – over time these things really add up.  How it is almost impossible for me to walk past the children’s clothes section and not just grab a cute onesie or pair of jeggings.  Rationalizing these choices with false need or inflated reward.

What I mean by inflated reward is that now whenever, and I mean seriously every time, we go to the store my 4 year old wants something.  A snickie (snack item), or small toy, whatever, she now, through my own creation will throw a fit if she doesn’t get something.  I also know for a fact that I say if you are a good girl while we are running errands you can have _____.  So now, I have created this little petite who has been conditioned that good behavior in a store is not expected, but is rewarded.  So now that I am aware of what I’ve done, comes the process of undoing it.  We, as a family, have spent a lot of time talking about earning things.  The petite has a Responsibility Chart and when she does the items on it she can earn something from a prize bag (mainly Target dollar Hello Kitty Items). I wish I could say that I didn’t need to break it, that I didn’t have moments where I just wanted to take the easy road, but that isn’t the case.  But breaking the “what do I get” now is imperative.

Just this week I was chatting with a friend who is still teaching and she was saying that her kids always say well “what do I get?”  Turning in homework, showing up on time, being polite and kind, participating – what do I get?  It is funny to me, because even when I was in grade school which wasn’t that long ago, I graduated from high school in 1998,it wasn’t like that.  Honestly I don’t remember thinking when there were team challenges in class, I wondr what does the winning team get?  Umm…the WIN!  You turned in your homework or you got in trouble.  What you got was a grade.  Somehow now that is not enough.  There were consequences, now in place of accountability and responsibility we have entitlement.

What got me really thinking about Hattie Garlick’s journey to opt out of child consumerism and if there is a link to this entitlement.  I don’t have the answers I am just one mom trying to do what is best in a realistic way for my petites to ensure that when the are older they don’t firmy believe that the world owes them something.  That instead they believe that they can contribute something to the world instead.

-Erin

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