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Rising consumerism leading to stress in children

By Snehesh Alex Philip in New Delhi
November 01, 2007 13:47 IST
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If you thought stress is something that is associated with elders, then you are wrong.

With rising consumerism among children in the age group of six-twelve, stress in children is becoming common, say child psychologists.

"Children start expressing from the age of five-six. Since, in the present time, parents tend to buy everything branded for their kids, the kid becomes brand conscious earlier than before. It can be anything from branded high end shoes to even jazzy mobile phones. I blame the parents for rising consumerism among kids since they are the ones who first inculcate such a behavior in the children. And when the the child's wishes are not fulfilled, stress starts creeping in them," said Dr Ekta Sharma, a child psychologist based in Delhi.

She added that on an average, 40-45 per cent of her clients have stress syndrome.

"Usually, they come with other problems but during the course of examination, one realises that the problems have risen primarily because of stress," said Dr Sharma.

Deepak Raheja, psychiatrist, All India Institute of Medical Sciences too agrees to increasing number of stress in children and point out that it is a double edged-sword.

"If a child's friend is using a Nike water bottle, which might cost Rs 1,000, he too wants it since his friends are using it. A parent might not be having a lifestyle to afford such a bottle, but would still give in because parents feel they owe him the bottle. This leads to over gratification and the child ends up being confused and is caught between two different lifestyles vis-a-vis the one he leads in school and at home," the doctor said.

"If a child is not given the bottle, he ends up having severe complex leading to stress," he added.

Doctors point out that the main reason for stress in children are increasing disposable income and with both parents being working professionals, a child is given materialistic love because of the guilt feeling that some parents might have since they don't have the time to be with their children.

"In this age when you usually have double income family where both parents don't have time for the kids, the easiest way out is buying them what they demand. And it is the lack of value system that creates such problems. Even if the child's expectations are fulfilled, it will eventually increase in future thereby creating more problem leading to stress," said Dr Sangeetha Madhu, child psychologist, National Sports Medicine Centre, Chennai.

"This phenomenon is more in the upper class of the society where consumerism exists in the particular age-group. It could be small things like a branded expensive toy or even much more simple things," said Madhumita Puri, child psychologist in Delhi.

Recently, famous designer Rocky S launched his children collection. Speaking to various news channels he said that today's children have become very conscious about what they wear and hence his collection is just an attempt to fulfill their wishes.

"The children now very much know about various brands. I have come across children who specifically ask for particular brands. You even have expensive branded clothes meant for children entering our market," said Dr Sharma.

Recent surveys have mentioned that children are now increasingly influencing and making decisions when it comes to buying something for the house.

"If you notice the earlier ads, they were all targeted at women but now you have ads targeting the children. Children channel's are now flooded with ads because of this," said Dr Raheja.

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Snehesh Alex Philip in New Delhi
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