The Secret to Raising a Child Who Isn’t Materialistic

You always hear about the prevalence of materialism in modern society. It’s a thing and we all know about it.

Parent-carrying-their-child

But with so many differing opinions and a seemingly contrasting movement in the millenial generation, it might appear that we’re becoming less materialistic.

However, a recent study shows the opposite: materialism has reached an all-time high.

As a parent, you’re probably wondering, “how do I raise my child to not be so materialistic? We want our children to be happy and, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the problems with living a materialistic life.

Fortunately, recent research has also shed light on the “remedy” to materialism as well and it’s more obvious than you might think.

To this day, I am the least materialistic person I know, because my father didn’t raise me to just go out and buy this or that car. The only reason I wanted to make money as an actor was because I’m passionate about food!

– Hugh Jackman

The secret to raising a child who isn’t materialistic

Materialism is the behavioral tendency to consider material possessions more important than intangible, spiritual values.

It’s a belief system that causes a person to seek happiness in physical comforts, where nothing but a short, temporary joy can ever be found.

This results in a person to searching out other items to quench their desire for happiness, leading to a never-ending cycle of search and longing, the person never truly becoming happy or fulfilled.

It goes without saying then that no one would ever want their children to grow up to be materialistic (at least heavily materialistic, as most of us have a shade of it– it’s simply a product of the times).

Fortunately, a study published recently in the Journal of Positive Psychology uncovered the simple psychological shift which can “overcome” materialism.

Researchers studied over nine-hundred adolescents between the age of eleven and seventeen and asked them to perform a set of exercises designed to gauge the level of value each participant placed on material items and how grateful there were for what they had.

The study found a direct correlation between those who were more grateful and a reduced presence of materialistic tendencies. In other words, the more grateful a participant was, the less materialistic.

How to help your child develop gratitude

Gratitude is the act of appreciating what you have. It’s quite literally the opposite of what goes in our brain when we’re “on” materialism: we’re happy with what we have as opposed to being dissatisfied and uncomfortable and always feeling like we need more.

It’s been documented by positive psychologists over the past decade as one of the most powerful qualities to develop in a person, making it not just a useful counter to materialism but so much more.


But how do you help your child develop gratitude? That’s relatively easy, it just requires a consistent effort on your part as a parent to encourage they continue exercising it.

Participants of the same study who used a gratitude journal as part of their exercises had the best results, so get your child to keep a small notebook on their nightstand or desk and write three simple things they’re grateful for or appreciate for that day and try to stick to it each day.

Keeping a gratitude journal is a very simple and quick practice, but it’s incredibly powerful if made into a habit.


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