“These days kids don’t value anything”
“Why are today’s children so dissatisfied?”
“This generation behaves in such an entitled manner”
“How can today’s kids get bored so easily?”
How many times have you heard these complaints from exasperated parents or uttered these words yourself?
I will admit to it saying them too as a parent at some point. Soon I realised complaining will not help. If our kids are scouring supermarket aisles, scrolling through their Instagram and Facebook feeds, planning to buy the latest gizmos or gadgets, hopping from one fast food joint to another or pestering the parents for yet another expensive toy/gaming device in the quest to find happiness and contentment, they cannot be blamed entirely.
Consumerism drives today’s world:
When the world they are growing in, interacting with and imbibing from is designed to allure, entice and bombard them with materialistic pleasures of every kind from a young impressionable age, kids cannot be expected to show remarkable self-restraint and swim against this tide. That expectation is too unrealistic.
What we sow, so shall we reap:
A large part of who the kids become depends on us, their parents. We drag them into multistoried malls from a young age and present endless choice of splurging on thousands of varieties of food, clothes, bags, shoes, gadgets and other accessories. We buy them surprise gifts to cover for all the lost time of bonding, due to our own guilt-ridden conscience. We encourage them to spend time with gadgets either by modelling it ourselves constantly or by engaging them with screens so that they don’t disturb us while we are busy . We take them to fancy restaurants, fast food joints and make a habit of eating out regularly. So how can we solely blame them for liking junk food? We splurge on fancy cars, designer clothes or latest iPhone and expect them to refrain from doing the same.
Trappings of materialism:
But this lifestyle gets easily claustrophobic because materialistic pursuits greatly limit the possibilities of leading a deeply fulfilling life. No wonder depression and suicides are on rise with both kids and adults feeling trapped and helpless in confines of their own doing. So it becomes important to lead our children away from consumerism and towards a more simple contented living.
As a parent, are you wondering how to bring about this seemingly impossible change in the mindset of our children? After much deliberation I feel this is a long arduous journey we need to partake with our children; a journey of a lifetime that can start with simple steps and us leading the way.
Our children need different lenses:
The first and the most important step is the change of perspective. Our kids are viewing the world with glasses tinted with consumerism. It is our duty as parents to give them an alternative viewpoint. How can we do this? By giving them a better, more fulfilling, non-materialistic alternative in every walk of life which will gradually lead them towards uncovering their inner joys. Let us see them one by one:
1. Embracing mother nature:
Next time you plan for a weekend family outing, instead of party hopping or window shopping try a nature-inspired outing like trekking on the mountains, bird-watching, lazing around by the lakeside or watching the sun on a beach.
Bonding with nature keeps one grounded and brings a sense of calm and peace. Children who are exposed to the healing and tranquil ways of nature, grow into adults who understand and seek the boundless joys it offers.
2. Discovering the joy in relationships:
The second important step is making the children aware of the power of human bonding. Children growing in families in which it’s members consciously try and spend quality time with each other, grow into adults who value relationships. Eating together, having meaningful conversations, having a no-phone zone in house or no-devices time slot every day, watching movies with family, inviting guests and relatives, having a sleep over arranged for kids are all mini-steps in cementing the delicate threads of human bonding. By encouraging kids to go out and play, make friends of their own, form groups and indulge in group activities, we can help them realise the value of friendships and also the advantages of forming communities. When children bond with people of various age groups, ethnicities and communities, their exposure increases which contributes greatly to their holistic development.
3. Replacing screen time with arts and sports:
This is probably the first priority of most parents in today’s world- An alternative to screens. But first, it will help to understand why are kids addicted to screens? It is the same reason that adults are hooked to them- gadgets give momentary sensory pleasure. When children discover more joyful activities, they will organically stop seeking screens. Some other obvious alternatives to screens are- indoor and outdoor games, hobbies like singing, dancing, drawing, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking or just sleeping. Sports and arts help in self-expression and lead one to finding their bliss. Parents need to provide a conducive environment which encourages kids to seek and explore these alternatives on their own.
4. Introducing the magical world of reading:
Books are undoubtedly the best alternative to screens. But for a child to discover the joy of reading, parents need to put in efforts to facilitate reading from a very young age. One of the best places to discover the wondrous world of reading for any child is the lap of a parent!! So pick a book and read to your children everyday; take them to libraries and book shops, let them choose their books and explore that fun filled world of books on their own.
5. Demonstrating the joy of giving:
We all encourage our kids to share with other kids. But how many parents motivate their kids to indulge in the art of giving? Kindness always begins at home. Children who discover the power of giving have unlocked the door to compassion, empathy and generosity; all of which will only lead them to life of contentment.
6. The art of looking within:
To quote Dale Carnegie, the famous author, “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Self-reflection is a wonderful tool when used correctly to dig deeply into our minds, can unearth treasures that we are unaware consciously. Most parents think that childhood is not the right time for it. But isn’t it true that understanding oneself is the first step in understanding what makes one happy, even in the case of children? To help children become self-aware, parents should encourage them to openly talk about their feelings, share their emotions and introspect why they are feeling that way. If kids begin to comprehend why they are feeling angry, sad, jealous or satisfied, it is the beginning towards inner harmony and peace.
These are some non-materialistic pursuits that can lead both parents and children towards a more fulfilling and happy life. If we put our hearts and minds to it, I am sure we will find a lot more…
Consumerism may drive today’s world, but if we lead our children to explore beyond the confining walls of materialism, they will be able to look at life in all its vast glory with its endless possibilities.
Could there be a better gift than that to give to our children?
About the Author:
Soumya Bharathi is an author, blogger and poet based in Bangalore. An Oral Surgeon by training, she is currently pursuing her passion of writing, full-time. Her short stories have been selected for various anthologies. She is also a self-published author. Her first book is a collection of short stories titled “Life blooms in Myriad ways” and her second is a poetry book titled “From the heart of a homemaker”.
About A New You:
We all deserve to have everything in our life exactly the way we want it.The first step begins with believing that every moment is bringing an opportunity to be a new you. As a founder, I provide tools to elevate all dimensions of your life and I teach you the art of writing to reach to your true potential.
Vandana Sehgal | Founder – A New You