What to do when your kids need to keep up with the Joneses

by BabyYumYum
The “Joneses’ phenomenon” occurs when your children feel the need to have everything that other kids have.
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The “Joneses’ phenomenon” occurs when your children feel the need to have everything that other kids have. Plus, there’s an innate parental drive to give our kids the best life that we can. Read on for our guide on how best to deal with this. Written by BabyYumYum.

“My friend has this…” Whether it’s the Jordan sneakers, the Lulu Lemon workout gear or the Apple iPhone, many kids enter the hard-to-deal-with stage of “want”. They contently want things that they see their friends have and so their material demands are about constantly comparing what they have and their lives with what their friends have.

For many people, this means living in the best house we can afford in the nicest area we can afford, signing their kids up for a bunch of extracurricular activities, and making sure they have the coolest clothes and gadgets we can buy.

Kids can easily buy into the idea that having more and better things equals a better life. This simply isn’t true and it’s exhausting  and unhealthy trying to keep up with this mentality. Plus, in South Africa, with such high levels of unemployment and poverty, we need to be mindful and thankful for what we have.

Abbott Calmettes

Teach your kids that:

  • True value is not about what you own or have, but about who you are. Your self-worth is not based upon your possessions or on how much money or things you have.
  • It’s better to have little or no interest in what other people are spending their money on. Social media makes this difficult as people and other kids post their lives for everyone to see–it’s easy to become envious. Limiting your kid’s time on social media for this reason is a good idea.
  • Financial security is the priority. This boils down to living within your means and not living in fear of being in financial trouble. Spending money that you essentially cannot afford on unnecessary luxuries is irresponsible.
  • Putting some money away each month is wise. Perhaps this is earned through part-time jobs, birthday money or even pocket money. Let them understand that they can save and earn interest.
  • “The Joneses’” are not always what they seem to be on the outside. We all look at what people have and make assumptions. There are people who have lots of great things but they have to work 24/7 and never see their family just to keep those things (mostly big houses and expensive cars). We don’t know the full story.
  • Using money to have great experiences and to help others is ultimately more fulfilling then just having things.
  • There will always be someone who has something bigger or better. If they’re unhappy that they don’t have what others have then they will always be chasing happiness.
  • Gratitude is essential. A trip to visit some disadvantaged kids at the orphanage can help with this!
  • The best things in life don’t cost money. Our best memories and happiest times are around experiences with friends and family rather than material objects.

ALSO READ: How to self-regulate and be a better parent

Abbott Calmettes

Top tips to manage “Joneses” stress:

  • Even if you can afford to spoil your kids, resist the urge to get them everything they want when they want it. This will only lead to a sense of entitlement and taking things for granted.
  • If you’re feeling triggered by your child’s demands, instead of losing your temper, take a pause, a breath and calm down before you have a conversation with them. Try a natural supplement like Calmettes for nervous tension and anxiety before you broach the topic.
  • Model the above for your kids. If they see you chasing after material things to keep up with others, then that is who they will be. It starts with us. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should — that goes for upgrading to the newest car or buying our kids the latest iPad or even building a bigger house.
  • Our bigger/better culture is literally killing the Earth too. Since 1950, we’ve manufactured around 3 billion tons of plastic — over half of which ends up in landfills, 9% gets recycled, and the rest goes into the ocean where it kills animals and hurts entire ecosystems.
  • Have work/life balance. Always working harder to earn more is killing us! We’re working longer days, taking less holidays and retiring later. Overstressed and overworked is the norm.
  • If children get everything you want all the time, they won’t have the resilience to face life’s hardships and disappointment. Children who are spoilt with the best and most expensive toys, clothing, devices, etc, lose their appreciation for material things very quickly and feel no sense of gratitude. Adults like this use spending to keep up with other people and to feel good about themselves instead of building an authentic sense of self-worth. Watch the film Richie Rich with them to illustrate this point.
  • Kids today are growing up with instant gratification. They can stream whatever they want and get whatever they need by pushing a button. They have phones and iPads to keep them entertained lest they feel the slightest twinge of boredom. Perhaps minimalism isn’t such a terrible thing?
  • Moderation is key. Perhaps that means fixing the old car instead of trading it in for a newer (and better) one or the kids sharing a room. Maybe it’s selling things we no longer need or use or wearing hand-me-down. Is it spending our money on traveling and experiences instead of fancy furniture? It means passing around clothes our kids have outgrown and relying on hand-me-downs. And when we do buy stuff, we talk to our kids about why.

As kids are humans, they are always going to want things and experience envy but by following the tips above, you can help them (and you!) to manage the Jones’ phenomenon.

Ref: Calmettes PI

NEXT READ: 10 tips for coping with financial stress

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