Consumerism You Can’t Control….
“Mummy, I want one of those.” Those were the words that have recently started escaping out of Addison’s mouth every time we go into the shops. The first time it happened I remember being filled with dread. I had seen it happen to other mother’s in various aisles of my local store. Where they had become almost panic stricken with terror and a new sense of urgency appeared in their footsteps as they found the quickest way possible to negotiate aisles strategically and get home before a god almighty tantrum broke loose.
It’s never happened before and when Addison said it, I couldn’t understand why. She’s always been really good when we go out. Yes, like any other child she would pick items up but a quick look at the item and mummy or daddy explaining that we weren’t buying that today and the item would usually be returned to the shelf. That was until now…
The first incident happened in B&Q over Christmas decorations. Not your average thing for a three year old to get excited about, but this year Christmas is on Addison’s mind. Big time. Every day we’re being serenaded by her version of Jingle Bells and yet more adverts from Nick JR about some new pooing dog or zooming hamster which is apparently “awesome” or “so cool”.
She picked up a box of felt covered reindeer decorations which no matter how hard I tried, I could not get her to relinquish. There was lots of fist clenching, followed by frowning and stomping of feet and me all the time trying to reason with her. Eventually I resorted to bribery (come on, admit it, you’ve done it to) to get her out of the shop and back into the car.
The next time was in the supermarket where, for some reason, I can now buy an entire plethora of toys, games, clothes, electrical and DIY items but yet I struggle to find the actual food items I want on my weekly shop.
I couldn’t fathom out what the obsession was for all this consumerism from her. Now don’t get me wrong – we don’t overly spoil her. She certainly doesn’t get a toy every day. We do however, reward her good behaviour with a treat at the weekend – now that might be a day out somewhere, a new book, time at the park or some painting at home with us. She gets toys on the very rare occasions where she has been amazingly good at school learning something new or because she’s saved enough pocket money for something.
I don’t consider that as being overly generous or spoiling her.
So I sat and talked this over with my other half. He hit the nail on the head – television! To start with I fobbed him off – how could television be responsible for this. Adverts are short – less than a minute long – surely she can’t remember all these things! Oh how wrong was I. I sat down for 35 minutes last week with Addison on the sofa after preschool for some quiet time with a cup of tea together. The Nick JR and Cartoonito channels were on. In that 35 minute window I was absolutely gobsmacked at how non-stop, intrusive, blatantly mind numbing the adverts were. Every 10 minutes there was a 5 – 7 minute advert break crammed full of shiny, plastic, brightly coloured toys. All linked by some annoying theme tune. I lost count of the number of times she said “wow, look at that”; “I want that for Christmas”.
This has lead me to question the amount of TV time in our house. We’ve begun trying to limit it to certain times of the day and to pre-record to try to cut out the commercial aspect of the shows. That said, I cannot completely shield her from the toy market brainwashing – she still managed to come home from preschool one night and inform me that she wanted Ben10 for Christmas too now. When asked where had she seen Ben10, as it’s not something she has ever watched or seen with me, she replied “Harvey showed me his Ben10 figures and it’s cool, mum”.
So I guess as a parent there’s only so much you can realistically do to limit the outside interruptions and intrusions into your child’s life, and even when you do limit those forces you can control – there are always going to be others that you have no control over. My solution is to keep my barrier methods in place at home and roll with what I cannot control outside my four walls. As long as Addison keeps getting a strong and consistent message from home about what she can or cannot have, then I believe I am doing all the right things as a parent for both Addison and my bank account!