“Mommy, can I have that [totally overpriced piece of molded plastic with a bad paint job that doesn’t even do anything and will break within 48 hours] toy? Pleeeeeeease????” Yep. You know this situation all to well. You can even hear the tone of your child’s voice and you can predict exactly what’s to follow!
So how can we, as parents, do a better job at minimizing the number of times this exchange of disappointments, tantrums, and parental guilt sessions occur? Here’s an idea I’ve recently tried with my kids and, unbelievably, it’s actually working! For the time being anyway.
I got to thinking one day about the psychology behind our “wants” as human beings and the societal pressures that surround our every buying decision. And it started me thinking about the reality of these situations. The reality is we are addicted to things. Why are we addicted to things? It’s because we’re trained to love things despite the fact these things don’t really make us happy. It’s not like these shiny objects actually love us back, do they? And just like that it dawned on me - they’re “shiny, new” objects.
What if we proved to our children that the things in stores just LOOK shiny? What if we taught them about the marketing and advertising tricks and helped them to understand that they are only seeing a facade. They only see cool packaging. Or cool TV commercials. After all, when we take the toys out of the packaging on Christmas Eve so that they’ll appear to be made in Santa’s workshop, the toys lose some of their incredible size, appeal, and magnificence! Everything we’ve purchased for our kids tends to shrink down to a minimal pile of fun. No longer can our kids envision themselves in place of the beautiful child models who appear to be having a blast on the front of the box!
So how do we educate our kids about the marketing and advertising tricks of the trade? We simply tell them about the company’s financial motivation to sell toys and about the competition they face when a child walks into Walmart or Target to pick out a prize. We talk to them about packaging, about what that company has to do to make their toy look more appealing than the others. We must be sure to consistently apply these principles every opportunity we get. Trust me, it will start to click with them over time! At least until their friends get a truly cool toy this Christmas. But at least they will quit asking for junk!
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