Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you all about the mythical place where toys seem to magically teleport from and land in their kids’ room or around the house each day. No matter how many boxes you fill to give to charity or how many times you sneakily throw things out when the kids aren’t looking, you can never make your way through their growing toy pile.
As innocent as it may seem to have an overabundance of toys, some experts believe it could be doing more harm than good. Beloved parenting guru Maggie Dent claims that having too many things can lead to an addiction, and it’s healthy to take away toys now and then to allow our children to use their imagination. If your child’s room looks like a dishevelled toy store every time you step foot in it, this might be something for you to consider trying.
How Many Toys Is Too Many?
So, how do you know if your child’s toy collection is out of control? If you go into their room or play area and find it hard to count their toys at first glance, there’s a good chance they have too many. In addition to being too plentiful, many children’s toys and activities only work one way, so leave little room for children to explore and experiment with open-ended play.
Even though we know that too many toys may lead to overstimulation and a messy room, it can be hard to deny them a treat occasionally due to the sheer joy they get when they receive something new to play with. Many parents are guilty of the shopping trip treat or just picking them up something while they’re out, and this can be hard for us to stop doing.
Some parents might find that they need to enlist the help of others in trying to limit the toys at their house. Often, grandparents or friends will give toys as gifts to our children, so it can be a delicate process trying not to hurt the feelings of well-wishers who simply want the best for our kids. If a birthday or holiday is coming up, perhaps you can suggest to anyone looking for a gift that they get new books for story time or gifts that will give them real-life experiences, such as a ticket to the zoo.
How to Reduce Your Child’s Toy Collection
There’s no need to completely cull your child’s whole toy collection. Rather, aim at keeping just a third of toys in their room. This will give them a small but healthy selection to play with, and they may even find new ways to enjoy them that they hadn’t thought of previously. At first, they may be upset that you’ve taken their toys away, but many children won’t even notice as long as you don’t draw attention to it.
The other two thirds can be boxed up and put away in the garage, or given away to charity if you feel there’s far too many. The ones that you decide to keep and store can be placed on a rotation schedule where you replace them every few months with their current toys.
By the time the old toys come out, your children will have forgotten all about them, and they’ll seem like brand new toys, and there’ll be no need for you to fork out on gifts every few months. If you do buy them something new, you can simply swap it out for a toy already in their room so that you don’t have to stop treating your child on the odd occasion.
Encouraging Kids to Play Without Toys
When looking at the number of toys a child should have, Maggie Dent discussed a 20-year-old study conducted in Germany, where a group of children had all of their toys removed from their play area. The first day, the children appeared confused, upset, and bored at the lack of toys. However, by the second day, they had begun to use their imagination to play and were using everyday items to create things and explore.
There are a number of activities that you can encourage your children to do, such as cooking, art, music, dress ups, storytelling, and outdoor play. These are all games and activities that encourage free play and the use of imagination, which can have a far greater impact on your child.
Small changes like this implemented at an early age can make a huge impression on their development and can create a less stressful and cluttered environment for the whole family.
For more handy parenting tips and ways to encourage healthy play with your kids, check out the rest of the Peachymama blogs by clicking here.