I struggled with the latter when it comes to Andrea. In our quest to not make her materialistic we might have gone a bit too far. Andrea cared very little about material things. She never asked for clothes. She didn't care what her clothes or shoes looked like. She wasn't careful with her books or toys. For some time I had to figure out how I could teach her the value of money without making her too materialistic.
Here are some things I did to help Andrea learn about taking care of things and the value of things.
1. I don't replace broken/lost/damaged things right away.
- I make sure that she feels the natural consequence of her carelessness. I went as far as letting her go to class without pencils because she forgot where she placed hers. (She never forgot them again)
2. She earns her money.
- She has an ice candy and candy business that helps her earn. This is the money she uses to buy things I normally wouldn't buy for her like books that don't teach a particular value or magazines.
- She also uses this money to purchase things she needs to replace. For example, she once lost her guitar pick. I refused to replace it (because I have already warned her about keeping that small thing safe) and told her she'll have to buy the replacement if she wanted to replace it.
3. Smart shopping.
- I teach Andrea to be mindful of prices. I would sometimes treat her when we are out by telling her "Okay Andrea, today you can spend 100 in this store" (or whatever amount I choose). She will then scour the store and find something she wants. She also has an option to pass on buying that day and buy a more expensive toy or book next time.
- The concept of money is very hard for kids to understand because it's abstract so I use concrete examples. For example, we go to 2 bookstores. I show her how 200 pesos can buy her around 5 books in the second-hand bookstore but only 1 (if she's lucky) brand new book from the other bookstore.
- My proudest moment came when she chose to buy this book. I asked her why and she said "Well I love the Avatar and this book only costs _____ and there are 4 books inside it!"
4. I avoid duplications.
- If she already has crayons, then we don't buy another one. No matter how cute.
- When we receive duplicates we either sell or donate things.
5. I control myself.
- As parents we are often the biggest instigators for materialism. Because of our love for our kids we shower them with presents and material things that they start losing their value...and what for? To make ourselves feel better? Because we didn't have those things as kids and we want our kids to have them? These reasons are not bad in moderation...but excessively they lead to kids who can become spoiled and consequently, adults who are never content.
- Andrea has a set of markers we use for homeschooling. This school year, we went to the mall looking to replace her old set (which I have donated to someone else) and I saw a set with double the amount of colors than her previous set for not a whole lot more price. I asked her if she wanted the bigger piece instead (I was convinced it's the best purchase) and what she said shocked some sense into me "No thanks. Why do I need that many colors anyway? I'm happy with my old one". I remembered one thing then. We don't buy things for our kids because we can afford them or because those things are available. We should buy things if they add value to the lives of our kids.
How about you? How do you teach your kids to value their things?