Do your kids have too many toys?

Is there such a thing as too many toys? Take stock of what your child already has before making holiday gifts.

The holiday season is here with the usual onslaught of commercials, catalogs and advertisements, many geared to children and most likely all about toys. Christopher Willard, clinical psychologist and author of Child’s Mind, and also several books on mindfulness states; “In the United States, we have 3 percent of the world’s children and 40 percent of the world’s toys, with the average child receiving 70 new toys a year.” Toys are big business, but there is a point when kids really do have too many toys. Dr. Willard reminds toy buyers that kids want to read the same books, sing the same songs and play the same games over and over again. This repetition is natural in young children, is part of a child’s development and enhances cognitive development. Many we don’t need to provide so many toys to our children, but what’s wrong with kids having a lot of toys?

Claire Lerner, psychotherapist specializing in early childhood development and families, conducted a government funded study about this very topic. Her findings showed that children become overwhelmed and over-stimulated and cannot concentrate on one toy long enough to learn. Joshua Becker, founder and editor of the website, Becoming Minimalist and author of the book, “Clutterfree with Kids” echoes both Claire Lerner’s findings and Dr. Willard’s thought of less toys for kids.

When children have less toys:
  • The use of an imagination can become more fully developed
  • Attention spans become longer
  • Social skills are enhanced as kids interact with each other
  • Kids learn to take better care of what they have
  • Opens kids up to exploring artistic activities like music and art
  • Increased development of problem solving skills
  • Less fighting and more sharing between kids
  • More opportunities to explore nature
  • Less household clutter

Keep in mind that children naturally reinvent the use of a toy on their own; turning a plastic pail into a helmet or a box into a shelter for animals. Take this knowledge to the toy store with you and you’ll find a great toy. Toys that lend themselves well to multi uses are building blocks, dress-up clothes, balls, bowls, boxes and animals.

Don’t avoid the toy aisle this holiday season, simply bring a mindful attitude while making choices. Don’t let impulse, tiredness or distractions drive you off course. Before you press the submit button or hand over your cash, pause and ask yourself why this toy? Can I see my child using this toy over and over again? Will it inspire hours of creative play? If you can answer yes to these questions, you’ve found a great toy.

For more information on children, child development or mindfulness visit the Michigan State University Extension website. 

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