April 17, 2023

Ask Margaret: My Kid Is Obsessed with Getting "Stuff"

What do we do when our kids seem more preoccupied with the next gift, toy, or game than the ones they already own? Here's how to contain kids' material obsessions.

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How do we convince our kids that getting all of the newest toys isn't the most important thing in life while also respecting their enthusiasm for their various obsessions?

A member of our Facebook group asks:

"What do you do with a kid who wants ALL the toys? I've got a second grader who insists his friends' parents buy all the Pokémon cards and my husband and I are the worse because we refuse to buy every single thing he asks for. He's got a pile full of Pokémon cards but they're not the cool ones, I guess? We're not going to change our buying habits, but how do we talk about this with him?"

Margaret explains that you can affirm your child's obsession with Pokémon or Fortnite to make them feel heard while also not giving in to their every whim around it. Margaret developed a shorthand with her son for the feeling of wanting things obsessively - the 'grabby greedies.' Naming it obviously didn't completely solve the problem, but having language around it helps keep the conversation going.

Setting up an allowance/chore system can be helpful, e.g., "If you clean your room and feed the dog every day this week, you can have x." Because kids have so little control over most aspects of their life, giving them some agency around things that really matter to them can be helpful. After all, one day, they WILL be making these decisions for themselves, and so the more they can practice making smart decisions with their own money, the better.

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