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Advertising: Preschoolers


Father and son at computer

More and more often, products are made and stores are designed specifically to appeal to kids. Try as you might, you can't keep your child from seeing advertisements and products—but you can decrease their influence.

The goal is to get your child in the habit of thinking about what he is asking for rather than immediately demanding what he sees. This is no easy task. It will demand a good deal of patience and creative thinking on your part. But there is good news: Breaking the habit of "needing" something right away gets easier as children age.

5 Ways to Fight Advertising

  1. Mute or talk back to TV ads.

    As a way to teach your child that he can question what he sees, ask questions and make comments yourself: How would you like to make something like that ourselves? That doesn't look like something we do when we go to the park. That looks like it will break.
  2. Turn in-store requests into art projects.

    You might say: We don't have to buy a card for Grandma because we can make one of our own with glitter. I bet we can use food coloring to create some cool holiday cookies at home.
  3. Before you enter a store, let your child know what he can and cannot have.

    A quick reminder beforehand helps manage your child's expectations: We're here just to grab a few groceries and nothing extra.
  4. Read product labels with your child.

    Your preschooler will not be able to make out the words—you may stumble over some yourself—but get your child in the habit of asking questions about products: What's this made of? What do we know about this food that the commercial didn't tell us?
  5. Keep a running list for special requests.

    When your child seems determined to have something, ask: Should we put that on your birthday wish list?
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