What would you do if you found out that your babysitter was teasing your kids relentlessly by dangling enticing things in front of them?
“Hey, don’t you want some of this ice cream? I’m having some and it’s really good! Come on, ask your mom if you can have it. If she says no, ask again – or ask your dad!”
“Hey, you should have this new thing! All the best kids have one, and you should have it too! Tell your mom you want it, tell her to get it for you. Tell Grandma too!”
“This is the best cereal ever, I totally love it. Does your mom get this kind for you? She should! Look for it the next time you go shopping with her, the box looks like this…”
Really, would you continue to hire a babysitter who talked like that to your kids all the time? Would you knowingly invite that into your house?
Maybe you have caught onto my analogy already.
Most parents do pay for such a babysitter. And for the TV or other devices they live in. And the cable or satellite subscription they ride on. You invite this friendly babysitter inside, and you approve of everything they say to your kids. If you didn’t, they wouldn’t be there. That is the message your kids are getting, whether you like it or not, because your kids know that their parents are the boss of everything that happens in their house. If it weren’t OK, that babysitter wouldn’t be allowed inside the house to talk to them!
The advertising agencies of the world send babysitters in trojan horses right into the privacy of your home. You let them in every day, sometimes all day every day. Those advertisers are smart. Nowadays, they even create programs that serve as a little more than a vehicle for merchandise they want to sell to your kids: the stuff they want your kids to want, to whine for, to wear you down about.
“Pester power” refers to children’s ability to nag their parents into purchasing items they may not otherwise buy. Marketing to children is all about creating pester power, because advertisers know what a powerful force it can be. (1.)
You are actually the employer. You can hire a different babysitter. Your child might complain for a day or two about the change of staff, but they will be happier after they aren’t being teased and bullied about stuff they don’t really need. The world is full of great babysitters who will model your values to your children. Some of them are real live ones, but when that is not possible, they can be in the form of alternative programming, streamed or stored, chosen to carefully exclude the most blatant forms of advertising to children.
How would you deal with a toxic little friend who inflames undesirable qualities in your child? Or one who subtly bullies your child every time they play? Your kids rely on you to make some difficult choices for their wellbeing. A change might not be appreciated at first. They might miss their old friend or babysitter for a little while but they will be much happier without that negative influence in their environment all the time.
Try this and see for yourself what a difference it can make. Be the good employer your kids count on you to be.