This has been an issue in my family for awhile now, and we are dealing with it but not as good as we could be.
I know all children want, and sometimes reasoning with them about want vs. need, being thankful for what they have, etc- just doesn't sink in. Not when there is something shiney and new to desire around every corner!
My husband's son and my son are the same age. We have been a family unit for over 2 years now. What i have seen these past 2 years is their materialism getting a little out of hand. We have talked about it, but our approach hasn't been super effective.
What happened? I think after my husband went through custody issues with his ex he began buying his son a lot more- and not just on special occassions. His son has more spendy toys, video games, clothing, and special excursions than my boys do. I talked to him about that and that's not my issue- I'm not trying to keep things "even". But it's gotten to the point every time his son walks in the door at the start of his "daddy days" he is asking for something new, has something new in hand, or sees that my son has a new thing and wants to know where his new thing is (even though when he gets new things he doesn't expect my son to get one too). At first I seemed to be the only person taking notice of this behavior, until the day my husband was walking in the door with a new skateboard in hand for his son and his son merrily commented "I can't believe you got me a skateboard! You NEVER get me anything!" (this is after getting a gift literally almost every time he saw his dad)
To which my husband did a total face-palm. That little zen moment made him realize the entitlement spiral his son was falling into, and it made way for a really positive discussion between him and I.
My son has similar issues- every time we go to the store he asks me for a toy, and gets bummed if I say no. I explain it to him (needs vs wants, financial situations, etc) and that seems to help most of the time. The difference between the two boys is my son tends to want something like a hotwheel or $1 toy vs xbox games, expensive toy sets, scooters, etc (because I tend to buy my kids less expensive/fancy stuff on a regular basis). I know materialism is materialism, but My husband's son's expectations are huge... And a lot of that is stemming from his dad buying him fancy things a lot.
So we toned down buying things, do a lot of "maybe for your birthday or christmas", talk about need vs want, earning things, and remind them often that just because one child gets a special treat or new thing doesn't mean the other child automatically gets one too, that we are parents and we keep track of things to make sure things are fair.
I think we need to kick it up a notch though, because lately (even though the answer is usually no or not now etc) they have been asking for a lot. Just this morning I think my husband's son asked him for like 5 different xbox games and toys, even though he just got one two weekends ago. It's also turning into "WHEN are you going to get me..." instead of "Can I please have..." I think that is red flag of entitlement... My husband handled it well, and int he car right after I had to tell my son he didn't need another whale toy when he asked me for the second time in two days.
I would just like to know of any advice, good books or articles, etc on teaching non materialism and gratitude to young children, and how to work on the materialism and entitlement that has already taken hold. We don't buy a lot of "toys" or stuff for ourselves- we more or less pay the bills then use extra for our kids when we choose to. We have been saying "no" more and discussing materialism with our kids. It just doesn't seem to lessen the gimme-gimmes. A big thing I see (that I want to approach) is my husband's son focuses a lot on video games, ipad games, and toys that are not open-ended. He like his bike, scooter, and some outside time but I see him desiring to do very little imaginitive play, art, or building. I have been trying to encourage more of that- and I know I could work on that more, too. I want to start more chores, helping, giving, and less screen time. Any other thoughts?