Consumer Watch: Moving your family toward minimalism

Some parents are trying to move their children away from dependence on some material items. (KOKH)

Parents tempted to try out the new minimalistic trend, or even looking to limit having materialistic kids, may be surprised by the prep work required. Gift after gift may start out as a gesture of love, but having too much could make people overly materialistic, so when parents think it's time to hit reverse, taking things away too fast could cause more harm than good.

Most people are always connected, hit with advertisements, and screen time all the time. Dependence on stuff starts surprisingly young. Deciding to take your family to a more minimal place is hard work and even more difficult if your child is on the autism spectrum or is dealing with other developmental issues.

“If there is a way to implement some sort of visual schedule so they can see when they are going to have access to their iPad or when they are going to have access to their video game, that can help a lot. The predictability is very important,” says Dr. Lindsey Bardwell, child psychologist.

Bardwell, who works with the Moore Autism Center and the Moore Counseling Center, says that parents' best bet is to make the change slowly. Some children may have intense emotional reactions, and a professional could help ease the transition.

“Definitely don't expect to go from electronics all day to not at all, so it is possible, but small steps is key,” says Bardwell.

Bardwell also says that parents should expect up front to be much busier if they are looking to step away from all the new toys and games and things, in favor of more family time and human connection. The recommendation now is that kids younger than two-years old should not be exposed to screens.

The key to avoiding all the stuff that could lead to being overly materialistic is to plan. Child development experts say keeping kids busy gives parents the best chance at a successful life style change.