Educating to know that owning things is not synonymous with being happy
“I have, you don’t have! I have, you don’t!” Many adults must remember the little verse, sung almost like a song, in a Disney scissors commercial, in the distant 1990s. With their eyes glazed in front of the television screen, thousands of children dreamed day and night about that little boy. object, stamped with the faces of the two most famous mice in the world: Mickey and Minnie. Like this one, hundreds of other advertising pieces popped up in the morning programming, at that time, almost exclusively dedicated to children’s content, such as cartoons and programs with presenters in colorful costumes.
Since then, our understanding of the intricacies of neuroscience and our moral and ethical assessment have evolved significantly. As a result, a series of habits that were routine for us began to be, initially, questioned, then seriously restricted and, finally, prohibited due to their inherently unethical nature. Behaviors that were once accepted as natural are now seen as impractical. One of them is children’s advertising. By law, this type of piece is prohibited in Brazil by a series of legal provisions. Among them, the Consumer Defense Code, the Child and Adolescent Statute (ECA) and the Legal Framework for Early Childhood.
To raise more financially responsible children, we must first re-educate ourselves. Reviewing behavior patterns in the face of our own consumption desires may seem painful, but it is essential.
But not exposing our children to the daily appeals of consumerism is not enough for us to have new generations more aware of their relationship with money. This is a relationship that needs to be carefully built throughout childhood and adolescence so that our children understand that not everything they want is necessary.
Although the absence of provocations, such as Mickey’s scissors, is a great help, it alone cannot prevent little ones from feeling incomplete when they don’t have the toy, clothes, shoes or school supplies that are in fashion. . The way we deal with our consumption impulses has not yet been completely unraveled by science, no matter how great the efforts are to understand why we feel so much need to acquire and accumulate things throughout our lives. One thing, however, we already know: buying or winning things gives us joy and pleasure.
This is not an empirical impression or sensation, but a science. Studies have already proven that buying something you want induces the production of dopamine by the brain. This is the same neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of pleasure. And dopamine production has nothing to do with age. It is the same for adults as well as children.
If the satisfaction caused by shopping is a biological reaction, how, then, can we convince the little ones that it is often necessary to resist the urge to consume? The truth is that children learn much faster and more solidly by example. This is another truth that, although it seems bitter, has already been proven by science. The tendency of children, especially the younger ones, is to reproduce behaviors of parents, guardians and other adults with whom they live on a daily basis.
To raise more financially responsible children, we must first re-educate ourselves. Reviewing behavior patterns in the face of our own consumption desires may seem painful, but it is essential. Or we will always be sailing against the current, without sails, without oars and without an engine that can guide us. It’s no use teaching your child not to accumulate possessions if your own closet is full of pairs of shoes or football shirts.
We can exhaustively repeat the mantra “you don’t need this to be happy”. We can say as many “no’s” as we deem appropriate in response to requests for new toys, clothes or shoes. If we don’t adopt, we too, a non-consumer behavior, all our words will be heard by them as a resounding “I have it, you don’t have it!”.
Fernando Vargas is a pedagogue, master in Education, Art and Culture, specialist in Financial Education and pedagogical coordinator of Conquista Soluções Educacional.