“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.” – Jana Stanfield
As parents, we have a huge responsibility to lead the way in teaching our children how to live well, in a way that promotes compassion and community.
From the moment our babies come into this world they begin looking to us to set a framework of expectations for life and the world around them.
Over the years, as technology and convenience have evolved, our culture has become significantly more preoccupied with “stuff”….and our kids are no exception!
Why Teaching Mindful Consumption is Important
Ultimately mindful consumption is all about developing the awareness to recognize how what you choose to consume, whether it’s clothing, food, books, toys, electronics, cars or utilities, has an impact on your community, society and the planet as a whole.
One of the biggest advantages we can give our kids in life is teaching them how to make mindful, compassionate, conscientious decisions about how they will to spend their time and money, and what they will allow into their lives.
There have been countless studies and observations made to show how excessive consumption can negatively affect mental health, our environment, our relationships and our creativity.
But it’s never too late to choose to right the ship and help our kids learn to do the same! Here are a few practical ideas to help you as you endeavor to raise mindful consumers in a world of excess.
1. Lead by example
As we mentioned earlier, our kids start looking to us at a really young age and what they see us do greatly shapes their thoughts, beliefs and actions. The biggest step we can take in raising mindful consumers is to model what mindful consumption looks like.
Engage your children in conversations as you consciously make choices to embrace less in your life so they will take note of how you’re living and making decisions.
2. Ask your child questions
A fundamental part to living intentionally and making mindful choices is asking questions. Just as you would ask yourself questions to determine if you should really purchase something or do something, ask your child those same questions to help them learn how to ask themselves those same questions over time.
Examples of questions could include:
Why do you want this item?
Is this something you think you’ll use for a long time or just a little while?
How will owning this item change your life? How will it impact others and the environment?
Obviously you’ll need to bear in mind the age and level of understanding of your child. Certain questions they’ll be too young to grasp, but getting in the habit of asking questions sets a great precedent.
3. Let your child make their own decisions
The next step in a child learning to consume mindfully is allowing them to practice making their own decisions after working through their own questioning process.
As parents it’s important for us to guide them and sometimes point them in the right direction. But if we continue making all their decisions for them without ever allowing them to choose for themselves, chances are they will 1) grow to resent us, 2) never gain confidence in their ability to make good decisions, and 3) never experience the negative ramifications of making mistakes (which helps them learn!)
After challenging them to ask and answer questions about their consumption habits, allow them space to choose what they will or won’t consume and walk through those outcomes (good or bad) with them, highlighting the evident impact their choices make.
4. Choose experiences over stuff
This is a big one. As parents who love our kids it can be tempting to shower our kids with everything their little hearts desire. But oftentimes that can do a disservice to us, them and our community as a whole.
Instead of focusing on the “things” we want and enjoy in life, you can actively work to cultivate a family culture that chooses and celebrates experiences over stuff.
Get creative with ways to give your kids experiences for birthdays and the holidays, instead of more stuff, and emphasize to them that life is all about the moments we collect, not things.
5. Promote a culture of sharing
A great way to practice mindful consumption is to recognize and embrace the idea that you don’t have to own everything!
Here at The Sharing Exchange™ we are passionate about bringing families and communities together to share and fulfill needs by sharing possessions instead of collecting them.
This is something you can involve the whole family in by generously lending out your belongings to others who could use them while you aren’t (or even better, making a little extra cash by renting out those belongings to others who have temporary needs but don’t want to invest in purchasing those things to own!)
As parents, and as a community, we have the ability to join forces in changing our world – together. And we can start by raising our kids to think and do differently.
To get started with practicing and promoting mindful consumption within your family and community, you can go sign up for a FREE account on The Sharing Exchange™ and start lending or renting today!