Toys teach children so many things. From developing their hand-eye coordination to exploring different textures and materials, toys are how children are introduced to the world around them. We all try to choose the right toys to coincide with the various stages of childhood development (see these children’s toys for ideas). But the question is, how many toys is too many toys? And when should we start to wean our children off the idea of having a veritable stash of favourite playtime playthings that can otherwise take over the whole house? Let’s see…
Step 1: chill out
Children love toys and you love to see your child playing happily and using their imagination. So, if there’s no issue, don’t invent a problem where there isn’t one. Yes, a lot of toys can sometimes seem like your child is moving from one toy to the next without paying much attention to anything they pick up (studies have shown that fewer toys increase the child’s interaction time with what toys are available), but it could just be that your child hasn’t found the style of toy that interests them the most yet. However, if you are concerned, pay attention to what works and what works slightly less, and start to remove the toys that probably won’t be
Step 2: put everything on display
Children love to pull out boxes of toys and spread everything around because they need to be able to see what they’ve got at their disposal – their brains aren’t very developed and visual cues are huge to children. So, if your house is starting to look like a toy store and you’re worried that things are becoming messy, introduce shelving (or a book case or stand) that can be used as a display for all of the toys. Once the child can see all of the toys, they’re less likely to pull the toys down and play with the things that don’t really interest them.
Step 3: change your buying habits
Toys don’t magically appear overnight when nobody’s looking. They appear at the expense of your bank balance and because you have either ordered online or physically travelled to a toy store and purchased things of your own volition. Basically, if you fear your child has too many toys and if your house is being overrun by building blocks and teddy bears and moulded plastic figures, you only have yourself to blame. Instead, switch to a “day out” style of birthday gift, treating your child to something like a petting zoo or a day at a theme park.
Step 4: teach responsible ownership
Strike a deal with your child. Suggest that giving away their toys to charity and limiting themselves to maybe nine toys, they can choose a tenth toy. Each time they want something new, they have to first pick something to give away to a family or child that is less fortunate than they are. This will help teach your child about charitable giving and decision making.