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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I would like to share/hear some of your views on how the materialistic world out there affects your child and what you are doing about it.

As for myself, I would like to protect my children as much as I can and am trying my best but too much stuff is still entering the house from grandparents etc.
Then there are the product flyers that dad sometimes reads with our son telling him this is what you can get, aaargh... He even took him to TOYS-R-US although I thought we had agreed that this is a store he should NOT enter at the age of 3.
Don't get me wrong, our children DO have lots of toys and I want them to as playing is their main "job" and means to develop, but I'd like the number and types of toys to be healthy and balanced, i.e., more creative toys etc.

I am feeling alone in this battle, so I would like some support. :)
I want to raise happy and emotionally stable children that can face the world out there without getting sucked into the materialism too much. How do YOU do it?!

Thanks for any input!
 

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I am probably more strict than most about this issue...
I do not allow ANY character toys/ books/ anything in the house. I even have issues with Pooh (since there is a huge product line attached to the image). If the grandparents or family or friends give a gift with a commercial tie in, it goes away. If DS asks who Nemo is in a picture on a store item, I say it's a clown fish. If he asks who Elmo is, I say a monster. It's the truth, without the BS coating.

DS is 3 years old and has plenty of toys and is not at all isolated or out of touch. He is happy and social and imaginative. But it's nice to walk through a store and he doesn't even blink when passing things that are targeted to kids because it's just not part of our world. No whining or nagging in stores is a nice thing. It's nice to just live in the real world and not be sucked in by materialistic junk and know that his interests are his interests and not something targeted to get his attention.

You are not alone... but it seems to be a small tribe.
 

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I'm a lot more relaxed on this issue than many. I think 'We" (as in TV adults and such) create more to comercalism than most little ones make of it.
:
I tend to just not buy a lot of licenced character stuff I prefer toys that ore more open ended and transend the times. SO were more for the traditional leggos or wooden blocks tinker toys etc I prefer more traditional dolls that look like babies and are just dolls reather than talking wetting self feeding ones. We like art supplies out door things like balls and baskets trycycles such. FOr decorations I didn't want to go super themed because I wanted something that would last so she bed spread as a rainbow striped and her decore in mostly her art work..
But yes some themed "comercialism" stuff is around here. SHe has a beloved Dora fleece blanket shes used and carried around since she was about 14 months. SHe has a set of strawberry shotcake sheets (that were actually mine once) She owns 4 barbies type dolls (2 grown two kids) and has a small collections of my little ponies that she'll save her money to buy. We have a collection of loved and enjoyed disney films. SO yes its here and shes get s a big does with her neighbors and such but we just do soo much of the others things doing god old arts and crafts rather than baribie dress up or we go on walks hit the parks explore the city etc rather than dwell on more chucky cheese or how we can avoid another themed this or that.
Its a balance that works well for me.
 

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I'm quite relaxed about this issue too... My son absolutely adores Thomas the Tank Engine, so at Christmas and Birthdays, we've spent a lot of money on buying him train tracks, trains, stations and bridges. He has experienced hours and hours of play with Thomas, so I consider it money well spent because he's enjoyed the play and used a lot of imagination doing so.

But I do have limitations. I would only invest in a product line IF I thought that he would benefit from it and have a long term interest, such as he has with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Peace
 

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I am very relaxed in respect to what I feel most mamas here are. I do buy characteritems if it is an item I plan on buying anyway
ex dora stroller at consignment shop, princess jumprope for dd's easter basket, sesame street ball pit. they are items that have the same function with or without characters. But I also teach dd "marketing strategy"... that snack is not healthy so it has X-character on it so people will buy it, that toothpaste costs more b/c X-character is on it, etc..... Because one day dd will have to make her own choices I feel I need to educate her, not hide her from it. JMO
 

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We used to be no character books/toys/anything in the house. It has gotten progessively harder as ds has gotten older. He will be turning 6 years old this year. I think we are doing pretty well with it though. He only has a couple character things left. He ended up with a lot of Cars movies themed toys at his 5th Birthday last year. He played with it and then got bored and things were moved out. He does know that we have a rule about no character clothing, backpacks, shoes etc. I refuse to pay for him to advertise movies and tv shows. It is really getting difficult now because so many of his friends are into transformers, Power Rangers, Sponge Bob, Spiderman etc.
: I am not sure how long I will be able to keep all the action figures, etc out of the house. He watches very little tv, so he has never seen commercials for any of those items. He also has no idea who Ronald McDonald is. We don't go to McDonalds or any other place that has happy type meals with toys, etc. Many people think we are a little loopy, but
Because someday ds will have to make his own choices I not only want to educate him, I also want to model wise choices in our home and in our life.
 

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I don't worry too much about an individual toy entering my home that has a character on it. Although I will choose an unlicensed object over a licensed one every time.

What I do worry about is marketing. My son knows that commercials are trying to get us to buy things we don't really need. Another gem I got from another MDC mama is that the really good toys don't need commercials--if he sees a commercial for a toy, then it must be a boring toy if they need to convince us to want it. So my kids don't see commercial TV, we recycle catalogs immediately, and we don't shop for entertainment.

Another thing we do is to make do with what we have, even if it means playing with non-toy items. My son is totally into space and rockets right now, and while it's tempting to go out and buy every rocket, Lego space set, etc. in the store, I'm not. We're checking out books from the library. We made a space shuttle out of an old bottle and some paper towel tubes. We drew a poster of the planets. He's making rockets out of our regular Lego. It's sparking his creativity, and then when he moves on to dinosaurs or whatever, we'll do the same.
 

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I try to keep character stuff out of our house, but its hard because there's lots of sweet older ladies who have sort of adopted ds and buy him Thomas dvds and sesamie street and disney books for birthdays and Christmases. So we have them around, but we don't actually buy any of that stuff ourselves.

We get most of our books and videos from the library, and I often tell him we're not going to buy this or that when we're in a store or grocery shopping, even though at 3 he already likes to say "What are we going to buy for me today, mommy?" when we go shopping. We also play with a lot of "real" stuff -- boxes, tools, etc, and I try to buy nice, high quality non- character toys, like metal tonka trucks and tractors for the sand box or Little People toy sets with cars and people and animals.

I do get frustrated, though, because it seems everything has a string of spin-off products. Like what's with the Little People books and videos? I remember when they were just great play sets. Its really irritating.

But I try not to be reactionary, and not buy good toys or read him good quality stories (like the original Thomas stories or Pooh stories) just becuase they've become horrible marketing monsters. I just try to explain the difference between the "good" thomas stuff and the "cheap" stuff or the books that I don't like (some of the new Thomas books and videos are really awful). I don't know if he understands that much now, but I'm sure we'll get into it more when he's older.
 

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Our dd is just shy of 21 months old, and I've gotten rid of the character stuff that we had and continue to keep it out. She already recognizes Dora and Elmo, and she doesn't even watch TV. Now, I make it a point to say "tiger" instead of "Tigger" when we encounter him.

Here's a website that won't make you feel like such a paranoid mom for keeping commercialism out of your life (as much as possible).

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Susan Linn, is on the steering committe of this organization, and I wrote a blog about her book on commercialism. I took the most compelling quotes from the book and posted them. She's a child psychologist, among other releveant roles.

I'm dreading future birthdays and holiday gift giving.
 

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I am not trying to be snarky... I honestly want to know.
Why is it so hard to get rid of unwanted gifts from friends and family? When I give a gift, I don't track it down afterwards and make sure it gets used. Do other people do that? Can you imagine going into someone's home and having the audacity to say "where is that Elmo doll I gave your DS?" And if someone did, why couldn't you as a parent just say "oh I don't know, I think DS left it at a friends house... or it's around here somewhere."
And I feel no qualms about asking/ telling family and friends who want to give a gift to DS what to give. Not being pushy, but telling them what he will honestly like and use and needs.
I place more value on having quality, commercial-free items at home that worrying about offending my aunt sally by "disappearing" the Elmo doll or what have you.

maybethatmakesmeweird.
 

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We have mostly non-character toys just because the open-ended ones tend to be non-character toys. I will allow some character toys, AS LONG AS they are not "one use" or "use one way" toys. Ds had an Elmo doll that he got for free from a nice lady at the resale shop. That doll could be carried around and put in a truck or sling, etc. Then we got another one as a gift from a friend (who saw it and thought ds had an Elmo fixation) - but it was one of those singing Elvis Elmo dolls; they're stiff and sing when you touch them so you can't do much w/them. That one went out.

I avoid character movies, though we have a couple. I also avoid fake "computer" toys (things that read stories for you, as well as xbox/Nintendo/etc type toys). My kids play puzzle and logic games on the computer and when they're old enough they'll have real computers of their own. Frankly the fake computer toys bother me more - they are much more "closed-ended" and passive; not appropriate for growing curiosity or encouraging experimentation.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
Why is it so hard to get rid of unwanted gifts from friends and family?

And I feel no qualms about asking/ telling family and friends who want to give a gift to DS what to give.
Don't worry. I'm not easily offended. I understand your curiosity.

It has been hard to get rid of gifts from friends and family because I know they gave them with the best of intentions. I've made "progress" with this issue by purging a good 98% of the plastic toys from our house, much of which also made noise and were gifts. Good riddance!

I have no qualms telling family what we want ONLY if they ask me for our preferences. It makes more logical sense to tell everyone what we'd rather receive, but I feel I run the risk of being perceived as ungrateful and greedy.

I have yet to find a solution I'm completely happy with. I don't know what I'm going to do about holidays and birthdays going forward. For now, my mom knows and my mother-in-law knows. Outside of them, I make sure to walk the talk and only give toys that are of a certain quality and integrity.
 

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I saw this book in a catalogue today-Living Simply With Children-
http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/l...-children-book

This company is really great. The book caught my attention. They also have great posters, notecards, calendars, t-shirts, etc.

It's definitely challenging to swim against the tide of consumerism but we're not alone!

Funny that here I am suggesting consumerism to fight consumerism!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
Why is it so hard to get rid of unwanted gifts from friends and family? .
Because once it is given to dd, she wants to keep it!

At younger ages, I did make toys "disappear"....usually after a couple months, when she hadn't played with it for a long while. The truth is, dd has always found character toys of limited use...even though she is very attracted to them initially. Brilliant packaging


Now that she is older, it is more difficult. She remembers more, and will repurpose toys in a way that she does use them. For instance, she got a "bratz" set from and aunt for Christmas....the "playset" stuff is long gone, but the actual doll got stripped naked and became a bath toy, because it is plastic! She isn't into Bratz, but she would definitely notice and object if that toy disappeared!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks so much for your support, it feels good to know I am not alone and/or crazy! :)
I agree, not knowing any of the cartoon characters helps avoiding to get sucked into a lot of the marketing. Our DS (3 years) isn't watching any TV so if kids brag about their DORA or DIEGO shoes he isn't impressed at all. I must admit that he knows some of the Sesame Street characters because we have a stone-old SS dictionary. Hmm, and then there is Thomas the Train, whch I never wanted to start myself but it happened, and now I am sort of playing along...Shame on me. ;-)
 

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We have Thomas trains (a gift from grandma), but my kids never play with them, and furthermore, have never seen the TV show. They play with stuffed animals much more. I can't think of any other character stuff they own. We do watch movies so they know and love Spiderman, Wallace and Gromit, Cars, etc. but we don't buy any associated stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by UrbanCrunchyMama View Post
Susan Linn, is on the steering committe of this organization, and I wrote a blog about her book on commercialism. I took the most compelling quotes from the book and posted them. She's a child psychologist, among other releveant roles.

I'm dreading future birthdays and holiday gift giving.

Thank you so much for the link to your blog, these quotes were exactly what I was looking for! Hopefully they'll help me explain to my DH what I am so worried about...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
I place more value on having quality, commercial-free items at home that worrying about offending my aunt sally by "disappearing" the Elmo doll or what have you.

maybethatmakesmeweird.

Agreed! I actually enjoy getting rid of unwanted stuff via selling, donating etc.

On the other hand, we've successfully "trained" some of our relatives to ask before buying gifts.
 

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I limit branded items, marketing materials, commercial TV, etc. I can't say that I ban them entirely, but I tend to be pretty conscious of how much is making it into our home and daily lives, and keep the flow pretty low. That goes for myself as well as my kids - DH and I prefer to watch TV on DVD and I find that the more I avoid commercial TV and magazines full of ads, the less I'm filled with consumerist desire.


We talk about the difference between wants and needs. DS1 is old enough now to talk about advertising with him. Sometimes he sees something and wants it and we talk about that. We talk about the cross-marketing on products in the grocery store (like pictures of Dora and Elmo everywhere).

Our preschool has recently merged with an elementary school that has historically participated in the Box Tops for Education program, which is a General Mills marketing scheme. Some of the preschool parents are concerned about that and I'm interested to know how things will develop. I recently discussed a McDonald's program that a friend's elementary school participates in. Part of how we can protect children from commercialism is by talking to other parents, educating people who don't realize what the impact of commercialism is on children, and building allies in other parents.

Some of the main issues to me are:
- character-oriented toys come with "scripts" and are detrimental to imaginative play (this is backed by developmental research, my own educational background is in child psych and speech/language/hearing development)
- bombardment of commercial images fosters consumerist behaviors in children which affect them throughout their lifespan
- advertising messages frequently use very effective psychological ploys in order to convince viewers/listeners of false ideas or to convince us to participate in behaviors that ultimately are harmful to ourselves or our environment. Being aware that this can happen does not make us immune to those messages, so even adults are negatively affected by many marketing schemes. But it strikes me as just plain unethical to target children with these types of mesages.

Quote:

Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
Why is it so hard to get rid of unwanted gifts from friends and family?
Well, as my kids are getting older, it's getting harder to just make something disappear. My birthday is coming soon. How would I feel if my mother gave me a book and my husband said "I don't approve of this book" and took it away from me and donated it or recycled it? The book was given as a gift to me. My older son is now old enough that I feel that we need to respect that gifts are given to him and are not ours to throw away, necessarily. So when a couple of Thomas items (our first) and a couple of Cars items (from the movie, also a first for us) were given to him by friends last year, I didn't push it. Because I've limited character toys, I don't feel that the presence of one or two is a huge threat in our home. I would, however, discuss gifts with him if I thought that the gift posed a large threat, and we would work something out.

But at any rate, it's a lot easier to donate/destroy a gift given to a one-year-old than a gift given to a four-year-old.

It's also harder to get rid of gifts that came from family members, especially if the family members had an emotional attachment to the gift, or if there are other issues within the family. I'm not terribly worried about the reactions of distant relatives, but there have been a couple of gifts from my mother or from my MIL that I decided that the risks of keeping them were far smaller than the risks of disposing of them.

Quote:

Originally Posted by margob73 View Post
I saw this book in a catalogue today-Living Simply With Children-
http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/l...-children-book

Funny that here I am suggesting consumerism to fight consumerism!

Nah, you can check it out at your library, or request that they get a copy, or use inter-library loan, or buy a copy to donate to them!!
 

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I'm of the "all things in moderation" camp. I don't actively seek out character stuff, but I don't ban it either. I don't want to set up the forbidden fruit syndrome. We have a huge collection of Thomas the Tank engine trains that my kids play with. They were given to us by a lovely relative who likes to 'collect' things and thought ds needed something to 'collect'. Ds watched the videos when he was younger, but his play with the trains has nothing to do with the videos.

I DO use it as an opportunity to talk to my kids about advertising. Dd saw Dora the Explorer soup at the grocery store and we talked about why they put Dora on it. 'What made you notice the soup?' "Dora" 'The people who make the soup want you to notice it so you'll buy it, and putting Dora on it makes you notice it. They want us to buy the soup even though it might not be the cheapest or the most healthy food." As they get older, I'll have them compare ingredients/quality, etc.

We also have a lot of Disney Pooh books because I have two SILs (one on each side of the family, so I can't blame either family!) that are majorly into Disney. They do tend to 'disappear', but I don't actively search them out to get them out. I just find that my kids aren't that interested in them because the writing stinks. One way to tell good writing is to be exposed to lousy writing. Ditto for character products. My kids get an allowance, and if they want to spend their money on cheap crap, they will soon discover that it's not worth the price.
 
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