Understanding Desires

Practical activities and resources for promoting an understanding that:-



Encourage our children to not waste their life’s energies on pursuing ephemeral desires.

Encourage our children to put their energies into building happiness within themselves and into building positive relationships with others.

Assist our children to be aware that they are fortunate in many ways and that there are ways that they can share their good fortune with others.

Assist our children to distinguish between their needs and their wants and to make needs the priority.

Understand that it is hard for children to delay gratification so it will be up to us to say no to many of their desires.


  • Make a list of things to be grateful for.  Focus on what we have rather than what we haven’t.
  • Draw children’s attention to the plight of children less well off or in poorer countries.
  • Foster practical giving to others –birthdays, Christmas – rather than having the focus on what will be received.
  • Giving what we no longer need to charity.  Donating and giving time to causes.
  • Give children non-commercial life experiences. Let them experience that the best things in life are free through non-material pursuits –picnic, beach, bushwalk.  Provide plenty of nature experiences.
  • Downplay materialism. Minimise children’s exposure to advertising –less TV, avoid commercial TV.  Avoid buying products that lead to more product demand or books that are commercially linked. Avoid products with logos.  Focus on possessions that can be shared or ones that enrich our lives.
  • Organise time for your children with friends rather than being alone with toys –build social skills.
  • Assist your children to be aware that advertising is often attempting to manipulate us to buy things that we don’t need.
  • Encourage working and saving money to buy things to teach a connection between effort and results and to realise that if money is hard earned then it should be spent wisely.
  • Focus on learning skills (music, sport), connecting, expressing. These things are investing in ourselves and develop our better qualities.  Consuming cannot do this.
  • Promote building good relationships such as friends and family connections as a better way to grow our happiness in life rather than through material things.
  • Promote idea of service –contributing –being useful.  Contributing what we have to the community and to help those in need.


Look for books, songs and movies about: Desires, Needs, Wants, Contentment, Appreciation, Gratitude, Sharing, Greed, Generosity.

Here are some suggestions:-

SONGS  about Desires

  • “The Pretender” -Jackson Browne.  Video

MOVIES about Desires and Greed

  • “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. Features the simple life of the Kalahari Bushmen.
  • “A Christmas Carol” –starring Jim Carrey: Greed and its consequences for the greedy Scrooge.
  • “Lord of the Rings”: Gollum’s obsessive desire for the ring and the fatal consequences.
  • “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”.  Francis of Assisi finds the joy of simplicity.

STORIES AND BOOKS about Desires and Greed

  • The Fisherman and his Wife by the Brothers Grimm.  About how our desires are endless.
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. About how greed destroys happiness.