You see it everywhere. And now schools are not spared.
(I remember we didn’t have such a thing when I was in primary school)
In the name of creating awareness in recycling, a popular home product company dropped by J’s school recently. And of course, they wouldn’t leave without taking some back from the students.
A day before the event, J received a brochure which promoted the company’s products and it’s aptly called Student Set. Again the company promoted the product in the name of creating a better environment.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all in as far as protecting the environment is concerned. But what boggles my mind is an awareness campaign (which is a noble act) is actually a disguised marketing event that helped the company rake in more sales than anything else at the end of the day.
I don’t blame the company. They have to do whatever it takes to survive in a highly competitive business environment. Personally, I don’t agree that schools allow such activities to be taken place.
On the other hand, the safest bet is for parents to educate the children about consumerism as we are all tempted by countless commercials in any form every minute of the day. As you can see, even schools are used as the platform to create publicity and promotional activities by some companies.
J told her mother that she wanted to get one of those Student Sets. She wouldn’t dare approach me as she knew I wouldn’t have agreed as she already has something similar.
It’s not easy for J as she told us she felt a little left out if she didn’t buy while all of her friends were scrambling for one.
It hurt me when I learned that I contributed indirectly to J’s feeling of being left out. No parents in the world want their children to feel left out, being called old-fashioned, and so on. Neither do I.
But I had to do the right things – despite the fact that I didn’t like the way how J felt.
I have done this before but I did it again. I explained to her the basics of consumerism. In other words, how do we make purchasing decisions? Do we buy because our friends are buying? Do we buy because we don’t want to feel left out? Do we buy because of school’s “endorsement”?
It’s especially important now to teach kids about money as everyone in the world seems to be eyeing your last dollar. Even the government (by coming up with taxes with fancy and creative names). If that’s not enough, they even encourage you to spend on credit – which to me is the scariest thing of all. Using credit on consumer products is the stupidest thing a human can do.
It seemed that J understood what I was trying to tell her and she calmed down a bit and felt less agitated.
It hurts to tell them these things. But it’s worth it and it’s for their own good when they grow up. When it comes to money, a pinch of self-discipline and self–control is required. If you don’t teach them to spend money within their means now, it’s going to be even more difficult when they are in the teens.
So take your pick.
I asked J about her feelings the day after the event. She said she felt a “little” left out only when she saw her friends (even teachers) were rushing to get the products on sale. At least she managed to control her feelings and the urge to buy compulsively.
I talk more on teaching kids about money in my book “The Nonconformistâ€™s Guide to Parenting.”
More details about the book at:
It’s wise to spend your money on this book by the way.