Which Factor is Related to Children Noticing Material Possessions During Middle Childhood?

Children are exposed to a variety of influences that shape their attitudes and values toward material possessions. One of the factors that has been widely studied is the role of self-esteem in children’s materialism. Self-esteem is the degree to which one evaluates oneself positively or negatively (Rosenberg 1965). It is influenced by various sources of feedback, such as parents, peers, teachers, and media.

Self-Esteem and Materialism in Children and Adolescents

According to a study by Chaplin and John (2007), materialism increases from middle childhood to early adolescence and declines from early to late adolescence. They also found that age differences are mediated by changes in self-esteem occurring from middle childhood through adolescence.

Materialism is defined as the extent to which one values and desires material possessions as a means of achieving happiness and satisfaction in life (Richins and Dawson 1992). Materialistic children tend to place more importance on owning and displaying expensive and popular brands, products, and services than on other aspects of life, such as relationships, hobbies, or personal growth.

Chaplin and John (2007) proposed that self-esteem influences materialism in two ways: directly and indirectly. Directly, self-esteem affects how much one relies on material possessions to enhance or maintain one’s self-image. Indirectly, self-esteem affects how much one is influenced by social comparison and peer pressure, which are known to increase materialism.

How Self-Esteem Changes Across Developmental Stages

Self-esteem is not a stable trait that remains constant throughout life. Rather, it fluctuates depending on various developmental factors and life events. Chaplin and John (2007) suggested that self-esteem follows a U-shaped pattern across childhood and adolescence, with a dip in early adolescence.

In middle childhood (8–11 years old), children have relatively high self-esteem because they are confident in their abilities and achievements in various domains, such as school, sports, arts, and hobbies. They also have strong parental support and guidance, which reinforces their positive self-evaluation.

In early adolescence (12–14 years old), self-esteem declines because of several challenges that emerge during this transitional period. First, adolescents experience physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes that make them more aware of themselves and others. They become more self-conscious and critical of their appearance, abilities, and behavior. Second, adolescents face increased academic pressure and competition, which may undermine their sense of competence and achievement. Third, adolescents seek more autonomy and independence from their parents, which may create conflicts and reduce parental support. Fourth, adolescents develop more complex and intimate relationships with their peers, which may expose them to social comparison and peer pressure.

In late adolescence (15–18 years old), self-esteem recovers because of several factors that promote self-acceptance and maturity. First, adolescents become more comfortable with their physical appearance and identity, as they complete puberty and develop a stable sense of self. Second, adolescents achieve higher levels of academic performance and career orientation, which enhance their confidence and aspirations. Third, adolescents establish more harmonious and respectful relationships with their parents, which increase their emotional security and autonomy. Fourth, adolescents form more stable and supportive friendships with their peers, which reduce their susceptibility to social comparison and peer pressure.

Implications for Parents and Educators

The findings of Chaplin and John (2007) have important implications for parents and educators who want to foster healthy attitudes toward material possessions in children and adolescents. They suggest that:

  • Parents should provide consistent and positive feedback to their children about their intrinsic qualities, such as personality, character, talents, and values. This will help them develop a strong sense of self-worth that is not dependent on external factors, such as material possessions.
  • Parents should also monitor their children’s exposure to media messages that promote materialism, such as advertisements, magazines, TV shows, movies, video games, etc. They should encourage their children to critically evaluate these messages and to appreciate other sources of happiness and satisfaction in life.
  • Educators should create a supportive and cooperative learning environment that fosters academic achievement and personal growth for all students. They should also provide opportunities for students to explore their interests and passions outside the classroom.
  • Educators should also teach students about the social and environmental consequences of excessive consumption and waste. They should encourage students to adopt responsible consumer behavior that respects the needs of others and the planet.

By following these suggestions, parents and educators can help children develop a balanced perspective on material possessions that enhances rather than detracts from their well-being.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment