If you are trying to raise consumerism conscious kids who buy high-quality items for life instead of buying low-quality items for less, it’s first necessary to teach your children how to take care of items. After all, there is no point in buying them high-quality items if they will be lost or broken within the lifespan of a more conservatively priced item.
Have Your Children Clean Up Their Messes
It’s no secret that parents are overworked and underappreciated, but some of the work that we take on doesn’t have to be ours. Why should you clean up a Barbie puzzle that you didn’t take out in the first place, or put away thirty books that your kid decided to dump out of the bookshelf?
The first step to teaching your children to respect their items is to hold them responsible—or, if they’re young, at least partially responsible—for cleaning up their own messes. When they’re young, start by having them “help” you around the house. Ask them to open the trash can so you can throw their diaper away, for example, or keep them with you when you put away the dishes. As they get older, they can start taking on some simple chores, like putting the blocks back in the bin after they’re done playing with them.
Natural consequences can help your children learn these skills. For example, if they won’t put away the books that they got out at playtime, there might not be any stories to read at bedtime. These simple consequences can help even small children associate caring for their items with having the items later on.
Have Your Children Help Fix Their Mistakes
Let’s say you come downstairs to find that your toddler has colored all over the walls. One option would be to scold them and set them in time-out while you clean the walls up. The result would be your toddler being angry with you and likely not understanding what they did wrong or learning from the experience. Another option would be to engage them in helping you wash the crayons off the walls. This option shows them that their actions have consequences and that it’s necessary to fix their mistakes.
As your children grown, helping your fix their mistakes can come in different forms. Maybe they can’t repair the car that they smashed a window out of—but they can help do some extra chores around the house to earn money towards that smashed window. Helping your children fix their own mistakes teaches them responsibility for their actions.
Give Children Increasing Responsibility
Children can’t learn to take good care of items if you are too scared to put them in charge of anything. If your daughter is admiring a necklace but you’re worried she’ll lose it, offer her a different necklace and let her know that if she can keep track of it for a certain length of time, you’ll trust her with the nicer necklace.
House keys can be another great way to leave your child in charge of something they have to keep track of. Purchase a nice keychain to put in their backpack and explain to them the importance of putting the key back where it came from as soon as they’re done using it.
Help Children Earn Opportunities
You want to set your children up for success. As they show that they can be responsible for certain items, give them opportunities to try for more success. If they show they can keep track of their headphones, for example, but are having a hard time keeping the knots out of them, give them cord snaps to keep their headphones in better condition for longer. Not only does this reward their good behaviors, but it also shows them that it’s okay to invest a little money in something to keep it working longer—a life lesson that can be taken to things much more important than headphones down the road.
By teaching children to care for items in their home and in their possession, you teach them not only to respect their own property but to respect the property of others as well. Though it can at first be frustrating to watch your children stumble and fall along the way, by consistently working with them on this skill, you will develop a child who has a good sense of responsibility.