Dr. Saltz says she sees several reasons to be concerned about kids and consumerism. "There's a perfect storm of increasing media, recognition of [the teenage] market and competitive parenting," she says. While advertisers are getting smarter about marketing to adolescents, Dr. Saltz says parents are choosing to be their children's friends rather than their parents. "Parents are trying to be cool because they're afraid of losing their kids' love," she says. "Kids have lots of friends. They don't need friends—they need parents."
According to Dr. Saltz, it's important for kids to know the value of work. "You want to instill the idea that you have to work hard for things," she says. "There are also going to be disappointments in life, so you have to build in resilience to cope with disappointment."
Dr. Saltz says the best thing parents can do is to not do everything for their children. "At times, disappoint them, frustrate them, limit them," she says. "It doesn't mean be a meanie. It means tell them they're a terrific, lovable person with talents and abilities, but without work, it turns into nothing. They have to work hard for what they want in life—everybody does."