Saturday, January 30, 2010

W-A-N-T is a Four-letter Word

I have read a lot of posts lately that have really gotten me thinking about the messages we convey to our kids about wants vs needs. This is always a hot topic when it comes to budgeting and 'living like no one else'. Last week I read this article about resisting consumerism. It's really hard NOT to get sucked in to advertisements, the latest fads, and the appeal of having nice things. As adults we have developed logic and analysis skills (although we often ignore them) that should give us a more sensible defense to these forces. Our kids, however, are bombarded with these things all the time with very little in the way of wading out the pure ploy tactics.

Then, a few days later I read another great article about teaching our kids to live simply. Tsh made a great point
"Instead of 'I want that!' or 'I really need one!', ask your preschoolers to simply say, 'I like that.'
A light bulb went off in my head when I read that. Before Christmas we were almost embarrassed by Troy's exclamation "I NEED THAT!" after almost every commercial. And, if it was a doll or girly item, suddenly he thought Addison needed it. Part of me was saddened by how much of an affect marketers were having on him. In reality, though, he really doesn't have much experience (at just under 4) at dealing with wants vs. needs. It's my job to teach him.

So, last night after dinner Tim and I talked about making W-A-N-T a four-letter word in our house. I explained to Troy that when he sees some thing on t.v. that he would like to have, he needs to say, "I like that!" NOT "I want that!" or "I need that!" I explained that people like hearing the former phrase and it really seemed to sink in with him. I'm sure I'll have to remind him often, but I think this small change will make a big difference in our house.

It's not good enough to expect the kid to change, though. Tim and I are going to change our words too. Luckily, being gazelle intense has gotten us out of the habit of wanting things just because we feel entitled to them or they would look good or be fun. If there is some thing we'd like to have, we usually discuss it quite a bit before actually buying it. When we're honest, there are very few things in our lives that we actually NEED. Just because we like some thing doesn't mean we need to have it. This is a lesson I really hope to instill in my kids. There really is no need to even use the word WANT. Could you go a whole day without using the word? Could you go a week? Could you eliminate it all together. Maybe that simple change that I want to instill in my kids will make a difference in our adult lives too. It can't hurt, right?!

1 comment:

Kara said...

That is something that really stuck out to me, too - just a simple change of phrase "I LIKE that" ... I think that would work for me, too. Sort of like bringing the joy back in to window shopping, in a sense.

Great post!


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