(CHICAGO) — Parents love giving presents to their children almost as much as kids love getting them.
However, when moms and dads use material possessions to manage their children’s behavior, it can create problems when their youngsters become adults themselves, according to researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Based on questions posed to 700 adults about their childhood relationships with their parents as well as how they were rewarded or punished, study investigator Marsha Richins said that people who constantly received material things as rewards for good behavior will often grow up thinking that success is defined by how much they own.
Richins and her colleagues also found that adults tended to be materialistic if their parents showed disappointment with them or failed to carve out time for them.
Furthermore, when children’s behaviors were managed through rewards or punishments, they also tended to value pricy possessions as adults.
Lan Chaplin, who also worked on the study, says there’s nothing really wrong with parents giving children gifts as long as the kids are taught to show gratitude, especially for the people in their lives. In that way, they’ll grow up to become more generous and less concerned about material things.
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