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As parents who are looking to teach their children the meaning of Christmas over commercialism, one mental health expert shares how they can do this.
"With all the glitter, gifts, and commercials for things that we didn’t know we needed until we saw them, some parents might be thinking about how to teach their children about not being materialistic," says Terry Warburton, the Clinical Director of Recovery of Hope Counselling in Winnipeg. "We might get frustrated as we try to instill values of generosity when our culture is focused on materialism. We might wonder how to keep our children grounded when all of their friends seem to be getting all of the “newest” toys and fashions."
Warburton shares that the development of a child's brain is one of being initially concrete and feeling thinkers.
"Our kids will grow out of it, but we need to find our patience in the process and not expect more of them than they are capable of. Something that we can always do is empathize with their helplessness - because children and teens are truly helpless as it relates to getting the things that they think they should have."
A person's values and what they care about are in everybody, whether they are noble or not.
"Our children will observe us and when they are young, and they often want to copy us. But due to their immaturity, they will sometimes act in ways that don’t seem to match your values, and probably not theirs either. How many of us know better than we do? We get up in the morning with a great intention to eat better, or exercise more, and then what happens as the day goes on? We get tired."
The best way a parent can instill values in their children, according to Warburton, is to model them.
"What if our child wants to buy $500 shoes because her friends have them? Just because they can spend their money on it, does it mean they should? Does it match your values? This can be a bit tricky. But what we can do is talk to them about their spending, which means we need to be nurturing the type of relationship with our kids that they want to talk to us."
If parents can at least engage some reflective thoughts with their kids, hopefully this will help to give them some perspective.
"By mentoring our kids, we can creatively help our kids see that they can save some money for long term while still having access to some cash in the short term."
As a mental health expert, Warburton shares that her field of focus is on the brain. However, how people handle their finances has a direct affect on mental well-being.
"Living above our means creates ongoing stress. So, not only can we mentor our kids with how to handle money, but of course, we need to have a handle on that ourselves as well. It can be really hard to see how others spend their money, and it might trigger our jealousy. As adults, we’re not immune from that."
Warburton shares one last great tip to help parents instill values in their children.
"Another way to install values of generosity and to combat materialism is to volunteer your time. This time of year, there are many opportunities for individuals and families to do things together and to help others. Find an agency or charity that needs extra arms and legs to help others."