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Marketing to Your Toddler

​​​If today's marketers and advertisers have their way, your toddler will someday dictate what toys fill the game room, what food is served at the breakfast table, which designer labels hang in the closet and what entertainment flashes across your plasma-screen TV.

Sophisticated marketing messages that celebrate consumption and consumerism are streaming into children's lives every day. And they've been spectacularly successful.

In one poll of parents, 20 percent said their kids, by age 3 - before they could read - began asking for brand-name products. Almost half of the parents said their kids were asking for branded products by age 5.

Advertisers' unrelenting pursuit of our young people through mass media, the Internet, and even in school and on the street, can seem overwhelming. However, you can follow these parenting tips now to help your toddler grow up to care less about things and more about people.

  • Set limits on your toddler's television time. Many experts recommend that preschoolers watch no more than one hour of TV daily.
  • Watch TV​ with your child. Be a filter for your child by helping him or her understand what's happening on screen.
  • Teach your child how to accept "No" for an answer. Nagging or whining for something comes naturally to children. You must teach your child that when you say "No," you mean it, and discussion is over. 
  • Reward your child with time and attention rather than things. Give your child "people" rewards (hugs, kisses, time with Mom and Dad) when he or she has earned them for good behavior.
  • Encourage play activities that promote creativity, problem-solving and concentration. TV entertains kids, but it doesn't engage the part of the brain that thinks critically or solves problems.

Using these parenting strategies successfully when your child is young will lay the foundation for a sound system of values that puts people first. He or she may still want the latest toy or snack food on the market, but your consistent teaching will let him or her know that "getting" things is not the most important thing in the world. 

From: Who's Raising Your Child?,by Laura J. Buddenberg and Kathleen M. McGee