Building good consumers: Working with the “I want, I want, I want…”

With different types of advertisements it is important to make children smart consumers.

Children connect well with television or flyers advertising items including toys, clothes and food. When a child shows interest in items, Michigan State University Extension suggests this is the perfect time to work with them on becoming a good consumer. When we go to a fast food restaurant, have the child check out the pictures on the wall and compare it to the food we actually end up getting in the bar; there is usually a big difference. We can than ask the child about if they think the product really taste, looks or works the same way as it seems in the advertisement. This is teaching the child to not believe every advertisement they see and instead to use their own judgment. Remind them that advertisements have one purpose and that is to sell a product.

We can also talk about whether you need this product, or just want it. This is an important concept that children need to learn early on and will help them through a lifetime of financial security. Is the product a necessity or will it just make you happy? We can than go on to teach the child that if the purchase is a want, than do we have extra money to pay for it. When my children were younger and they wanted name brand clothes, like most children, I agreed to pay for half and they had to do extra work to pay for the remaining portion themselves. This seems to work out well in teaching the child the value of money and whether or not they really want the brand name items.

Television is notorious for ultimately brainwashing viewers into what products they want the consumer to buy. The less advertisement’s we watch on television the more effective we will be at teaching children to make up their own minds and expand their thinking skills. We can easily get children involved in constructive activities throughout the day instead of watching TV. Get your child more involved in meal preparation in the kitchen, they will eat better and feel more a part of the family. You could also get children to start listening to audiobooks; they can be checked out from your local library. Children can follow the books while listening to the stories. They can also become engage in an active activity such as running out side, playing ball or riding bikes. We can also just go for a simple walk with the family and pets. For quieter activities we can read or turn down the lights and listening to soft music; this can be a fun and relaxing activity. There are many activities we can engage our children in instead of watching countless hours of TV and advertisement’s telling us what we should buy. This will also bring our family closer together. What children really want is our time and attention, not material things.

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