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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The branded child

I feel as part of a Western culture, its somewhat predetermined that our children will grow up being taught to be greedy. They are bombarded with TV programs that have its marketing arms extended into the world of childrens clothes, food and toys. They're subliminally instructed to crave the latest and the greatest, to want more and need more and the more that they have, the cooler they are. Dora the Explorer yoghurt, Hannah Montana t-shirts, Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas (Do you know how hard it is to find non cartoon branded pyjamas?)

From what little television Grub watches, I agree some shows are educational. But its one thing to watch a half hour show once a week, compared to obsessing over Dora the Explorer merchandise because the girl at Kindy has a so and so. Its this type of mentality that is detrimental to a childs ability to accept who they are and what true happiness is, without the aid of materialistic things.

The combination of marketing creeping its way into our childrens lives and rise of Tween consumers, its more important than ever to provide a home environment where our children can grow up without feeling like more is better. These are my 'rules' I've set up for myself to combat the onslaught of the marketing world and to help Grub appreciate and respect her toys:

No plastic toys - The majority of branded toys are plastic. Not only are a lot of plastic toys poorly made, they are made with toxic substances that over time can cause various health problems including, reproductive defects, an increased risk of breast cancer and organ failure. Wooden toys last longer, are aesthetically pleasing, are hardly ever branded and lack flashing lights and sound allowing the imagination to express itself. Eco Toys sell amazing wooden toys for all ages and types of play.

      Don't allow toys to get out of control - Every toy has a home on a shelf or in a cupboard. I like to display Grub's toys so she can easily access them when she wants to play and so they can easily be put back when shes finished. I try to get her to focus on one toy at a time, when she moves on to another toy, I put away the previous. If shes abusing or rough handling a toy, I take it away until she can play with it respectfully. 

        Limited media exposure - Grub seriously only watches about 30 minutes of TV a week... Maximum! Some weeks the TV isn't even switched on. On the odd occasion that she does watch it, I switch it off when ads are playing. 

          No kid focused branded foods - Since starting baby led weaning, I've only bought one branded kids food. Cheese stringers, it was an over priced, saltier, plastic laden version of mozzarella. 

            Stay away from branded clothes - Majority of Grub's clothes are either hand me downs, from op shops or gifts. I've rarely had to buy new clothes, but when I do, I look for non branded clothes, that are easy to move in and made from natural fibers. 

            Homemade or handcrafted toys -  Simple ideas like creating a hanging toy out of a Christmas bauble and a stick. Making a rattle out of pasta and a bottle. A cubby house out of two chairs and a sheet. For older kids, fun can be had by making toys together or doing activities like those in Action Pack

              As parents we should be teaching out kids that self esteem comes from the inside out, not the outside in!



              1. Elizabeth de Fredrick9 September 2011 at 15:02

                I agree completely Koo.
                Unfortunately it's not easy to find non branded anything these days!

                I'd love to have all toys made from nothing but natural materials and clothes etc, but so many of our little ones things are gifts that I'd rather keep them than have them end up in landfill.
                My friend jokes that Hawk has no toys (her lounge is bursting with plastic, battery operated things) but I've tried to explain that he plays with ordinary household objects.

                We also buy many things from op shops as reuse comes before recycle! - BTW, have you read "Buy, Buy Baby" by Susan Gregory Thomas - it's about companies creating brand association from the womb onwards.

                Thanks for your awesome blog and three cheers for those that say "no" to Disney, TV and plastic (or at least try to limit them ;)

              2. Great post!

                I know what you mean about non-branded pj’s – they are impossible to find!

                I like your rules. Ours are similar. Avoiding branded food has been harder as my daughter gets older and she sees what her friends eat. Those horrid cheese stringers were a HUGE temptation for her. I let her buy a packet once and we spoke about how much ‘proper’ cheese we could have bought for the same price and discussed the cheese tasting more like plastic than cheese – and thankfully she hadn’t asked for them since.