By April Atwood
July 24, 2013
The “support local” message is catching on more than ever America and as we continue to become better educated regarding the positive economic benefits of shifting our spending to locally-owned businesses, it’s apparent these habits need to be preserved and nurtured among our youth.
Luckily for parents, there’s a ready-made audience for teaching the support-local message. Yes, we’re talking about your children. Those crumb-snatching little rascals represent the future of our country, and passing on your sound habits is the easiest way to create a generation of concious shoppers.
However, trying to teach your child good habits can be like attempting a complicated gymnastics routine with no formal training. So instead of adding another thing to nag your child about, employing a “show instead of tell” method can help you get them make it habitual to support your community. For example:
1. Take them with you on local shopping outings
Actions speak louder than words, especially to children. When your finger-biting habit suddenly becomes your kid’s finger-biting habit, this becomes frighteningly obvious. And the same goes for your spending habits. Almost all kids know Target and Chuck-E-Cheese, but how many can name the locally-owned options in their area?
Just one look at your own shopping habits will give you an idea of the values you’re passing down to your children. Supporting local is a learned behavior, so make it a point to support local with the kids in tow, showing off the diversity and uniqueness of your local business community. This might mean altering your routine to include small businesses for regular items. [Your kids may get a kick out of stamping cash to use for your local shopping.]
2. Visit the farmer’s market
Mary Poppins was right when she said that an element of fun can make any chore seem enticing. And so, instead of going on about the various reasons to always choose local first, why not take your kids to the veritable wonderland of local fare that is the farmer’s market. Because many are on weekend mornings, you can easily fit in at least one trip a month with the kids. At most markets you’ll find everything from locally grown produce to handmade hats, and a great outpouring of community support.
The farmer’s market also allows for a much more interactive shopping experience. Allowing your children to help you shop at the farmer’s markets can teach sound economic decisions, and hopefully an appreciation for fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only that, but interacting with farmers and merchants will give your kids a sense of connection to the products they are purchasing.
3. Get them involved in the community
Supporting local is more than just where you shop. Becoming a part of the community can lead to lifelong habits. Summertime is the perfect time to engender great local habits in your children, with something as simple as taking part in locally run day camps for kids; visiting children’s author readings at local bookstores; or family outings to a local art walk.
A deep connection with your community usually begins in childhood, and it can last a lifetime if you make the effort to teach your child simple local shopping habits.
Do you have further ideas on how to engage youth? Please tell us.