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Reward Your Kids With New Experiences, Not Stuff

Our materialistic society makes parenting difficult. Constantly bombarded with advertisements of cool new toys, video games, and the latest techno gadgets, how can we expect the developing, inexperienced minds of our children to cope? Us parents need to redirect our kid’s focus from objects to what really matters in life. Instead of handing our kids a plastic toy for behaving, we should reward them with new life experiences.

It’s all too easy to grab a toy from the dollar bin at the store with the promise: “If you behave, you can have this,” a piece of melded together plastic that holds meaning for maybe 24 hours, and then gets chucked in the corner with the other little toys. Meaningless dust collectors.

Why not promise an adventure instead? “If you behave, we’ll go to the park after this.” A run around on the playground, tumble in the grass. It won’t collect dust, or sit in a corner forgotten – maybe you’ll get some grass stains, and a tired, but happy child.

Children require less things and far more meaningful experiences. When they grow up, it’s not the stuff in their life they will remember, it’s that time you tried to catch tadpoles at the lake, or that sand castle you both built that the wave knocked over at the beach.

Keep it simple. Don’t promise a reward you can’t deliver or renege on for bad behavior, like a trip to Disney World. The best life experiences cost little to nothing, like a picnic in the park, blowing bubbles in the backyard, making chalk drawings on the sidewalk, or tossing a football around, but they all have one thing in common: you do them together. What kids really want in life is quality time spent with their parents.

Stop materialism in its tracks: make memories together, not collections.

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