Rais­ing greedy kids

Re­search shows a grat­i­tude jour­nal can help curb ma­te­ri­al­ism.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By HEIDI STEVENS

MA­TE­RI­AL­IS­TIC kids aren’t just tough to shop with at the mall (“TeenyMates! Shop­kins! Le­gos! Need! Them! All!”). They’re at an in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing long- term so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

Aric Rind­fleisch, pro­fes­sor of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Univer­sity of Illinois at Ur­bana- Cham­paign, United States has spent 20 years re­search­ing ma­te­ri­al­ism, and he calls it a learned value that can neg­a­tively im­pact a per­son’s life­long well- be­ing.

“Ma­te­ri­al­ism is a value,” Rind­fleis­ch­said. “And peo­ple who hold strongly to it tend to suf­fer both psy­cho­log­i­cally and so­cially, in terms of a re­duced sense of well- be­ing, lower lev­els of hap­pi­ness, re­duced life sat­is­fac­tion and in­creased rates of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, stress and lone­li­ness.” But he also has some good news. In a new study, Rind­fleisch found that ma­te­ri­al­ism can be curbed with a sim­ple se­ries of grat­i­tude ex­er­cises.

“When we’re grate­ful, we re­flect on the gen­eros­ity of oth­ers,” he said. “Given that we’re so­cial hu­mans, this idea of rec­i­proc­ity kicks off the no­tion that we should be gen­er­ous to oth­ers.”

Af­ter study­ing a na­tion­wide sam­ple of 900 ado­les­cents ages 11 to 17, Rind­fleisch’s team found a defini­tive link be­tween grat­i­tude and ma­te­ri­al­ism, sug­gest­ing that strate­gies to in­duce more grat­i­tude could pos­si­bly lower ma­te­ri­al­ism in teens.

They gath­ered 61 ado­les­cents ( 29 boys and 32 girls) and asked them to com­plete a fiveitem grat­i­tude mea­sure and an eight- item ma­te­ri­al­ism mea­sure.

Then the kids were as­signed to keep a daily jour­nal for two weeks. One group was asked to record what they were thank­ful for each day, and one group was asked to sim­ply record their daily ac­tiv­i­ties.

Next, they were each given 10 US$ 1 bills for par­tic­i­pat­ing, and told they could keep all the money or do­nate some of it to char­ity.

Af­ter two weeks, par­tic­i­pants com­pleted the same grat­i­tude and ma­te­ri­al­ism mea­sures.

The kids who recorded what they were grate­ful for each day showed a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in grat­i­tude and a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in ma­te­ri­al­ism. The other group re­tained their pre- jour­nal lev­els of grat­i­tude and ma­te­ri­al­ism.

In ad­di­tion, the grat­i­tude jour­nal par­tic­i­pants do­nated 60% more of their earn­ings than the kids who sim­ply recorded their daily ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The find­ings show that cul­ti­vat­ing a grate­ful dis­po­si­tion among ado­les­cents is not only a pow­er­ful coun­ter­weight to ma­te­ri­al­ism, but also no­tably re­duces its neg­a­tive ef­fects on gen­eros­ity,” the study states.

Feel­ings of grat­i­tude can be fos­tered through a va­ri­ety of meth­ods, the study points out: daily re­flec­tion around the din­ner ta­ble, keep­ing a grat­i­tude jar where kids write down some­thing they’re grate­ful for each week, art projects that ask chil­dren to list what they’re thank­ful for, etc.

Which is a lot eas­ier than try­ing to avoid the mes­sages and temp­ta­tions that lead to ma­te­ri­al­ism in the first place: com­mer­cials, friends who have more than you, trips tothe mall.

“It’s an easy work- around that com­bats ma­te­ri­al­ism, rather than try­ing to stop it from form­ing in the first place,” Rind­fleisch said. “The low- cost, easy so­lu­tion of sim­ply re­flect­ing once a day on some­thing to be thank­ful for can, over time, re­duce ma­te­ri­al­ism and make chil­dren and so­ci­ety kin­der and gen­tler to one an­other.”

Yes, please. - Chicago Tribune/ Tribune News Ser­vice

Too many things: Ma­te­ri­al­ism learned dur­ing ado­les­cence can lead to anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and sub­stance abuse later in life. — TNS

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