Most advice you’ll read about shopping on a budget suggest leaving kids at home. The idea is that kids not only can slow you down at the store but also they can inspire you to make impulse purchases.
Now there’s research to back up this thinking.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined what they call the “nag factor” to find out how marketing messages make kids ask for products that their parents hadn’t intended on buying.
“Clearly, children are not the primary shoppers in the households, so how do child-oriented, low-nutrition foods and beverages enter the homes and diets of young children?” says Dina Borzekowski, EdD, EdM, MA, senior author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society. “Our study indicates that while overall media use was not associated with nagging, one’s familiarity with commercial television characters was significantly associated with overall and specific types of nagging. In addition, mothers cited packaging, characters, and commercials as the three main forces compelling their children to nag.”
So what’s a frazzled mom to do?
- When you watch television with your child or see an advertisement in a magazine, talk with your child about what that advertisement means and what that advertisements intended purpose is. When my own daughters were preschoolers, we began explaining how advertising is meant to sell you something you didn’t know you wanted or needed. They quickly became aware of advertisements on their favorite shows–but they still often asked for the items they saw. However, we eventually used these situations to have other conversations about “need” versus “want.” At some point we made them spend their own allowances to make any impulse purchases, and after a couple of disappointing purchases, that nearly stopped all together.
- Have a discussion with your child at the supermarket, if he/she brings up wanting something from television. Ask your child if he’s ever tasted that product? Does she know anyone who has had this food and liked it? You may even want to buy some of the products and do taste tests. I know that with my girls, we did this a couple of times, and the advertised products ended up not being very pleasing to their palettes-and they never asked for them again.
- Don’t bring your kids food shopping with you. Simple as that.
What are you solutions for dealing with the nag factor?