Why having fewer toys is better for your children

Walking up the stairs, you trip on a plastic truck. You wince and look down at your foot, only to see a trail of Barbie dolls, Lego, and stuffed animals leading up to your children’s bedrooms.

For what seems like the hundredth time in the past week, you promise yourself that tomorrow is going to be the day you take a van full of toys to Goodwill. Your kids don’t even play with half of them anymore! Tiptoeing around plastic pastries from the play kitchen, you navigate your way through the mess that seems to be a constant in your house.

Does this sound familiar? Many parents complain that children’s play areas resemble a toy store.

But aside from the clutter, there is a more important issue at stake, an abundance of toys may decrease the quality of young children’s play and development. A recent study from the University of Toledo in Ohio reveals that having fewer toys could motivate toddlers to engage in more imaginative and creative play.

This means that providing fewer toys is far from depriving your child, and will actually encourage increased cognitive development.

What does the research say?

The researchers divided 36 toddlers (ages 18 to 30 months) into two groups. They gave 16 different toys to one group and only 4 different toys to the other group. The researchers noted that the toddlers with only 4 toys played with each individual toy longer and played with the toys in more creative, varied ways.

The study speculated that too many toys can become distracting. When there are fewer toys, children are more likely to play in a sophisticated manner. This manner of play can help improve self-expression, fine-motor coordination, and other developmental milestones.

Does this mean you should throw out all your children’s toys?

Of course, not. But if you are going out of your way to buy your child all the latest toys and gadgets, it may be worth asking yourself, does my child really need this? Will this new toy benefit my child and enrich their development? Or will it just add to the clutter in your house and your child’s brain?

There are plenty of ways to keep your children entertained without toys. Plan a game night together with the family. Go on an excursion. Cook together. Do an arts and crafts session, or spend a few hours in the park. If your schedule allows, it is better to invest more in activities and less in material items. More time together promotes better bonding time and the opportunity to maximize their learning and development.

A qualified therapist or child psychologist can provide parenting tips and guidance to ensure your children succeed and thrive. Contact one of our therapists for more information or to learn about online therapy.

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22 Nov 2018

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