Too Many Toys?

I gave a lunch hour parenting workshop on Overindulgence at the OPM today. This included a discussion about having too many toys and the benefits of rotating them. Growing up (a child of the 70s) I had a book shelf, a table for coloring, a dollhouse, a bed and a dresser in my room. Admittedly, the dollhouse was stocked, but that was it for toys. I played for hours a day over years with that dollhouse. I did this in part because that’s all that was available.

The idea of less is more is truly the case with toys. Consider the child that has a collection of Groovy Girls, Polly Pockets, American Girls, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop and Calico Critters. Likely, she doesn’t play with anything as long or as often as I played with that dollhouse. Part of the answer if you sense your child has too much, is to pack half of it up in storage, then once a month or so, rotate half of that back in. With fewer choices, your child will likely play more often and more creatively with what is available. It also allows you to bring a few toys back into rotation each month as “new” without having to buy anything. This increases the life and interest in any particular toy. A toy that has been out of sight a few months is new, a toy sitting unused on the shelf is boring.

You might also get renewed interest just by moving toys around the house. I thought my girls had lost interest in their dollhouse that was in the playroom. No one had touched it in months. While cleaning one day, I carried it to the dining room. My daughters saw it there, it sparked their interest and they played with it often over the next month.

If you have too many toys, it can also be a golden opportunity for teaching about giving to others. Help your older children to sort through and find the toys they really don’t play with anymore. Have them help clean and box the toys that are in great condition and go with you to donate them.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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