04 Sep The Power of Less – Reducing your Child’s Toys to Create a Calmer, Happier, More Focused and Secure Child
Toys are everywhere. Literally. They are available at every shop counter. They come with most meals for children at restaurants. They are advertised on every media platform, and they take over your child’s bedroom and sometimes even your house. Toys are a staple of everyday life and are no longer reserved for special occasions. Add to this the pressure of making sure our children have everything they ‘need’ and you have a recipe for entitlement, chaos, anxiety, poor concentration, poor attention and the development of one type of emotional gesture ‘more.’
If you are reading this and think that this sounds like it might be your child, you are not alone. The benefits of taking control of your child’s ‘toy stash’ are significant. Taking small steps to simplify your child’s environment can create calm, structure and order. The benefits of this can lead to a more relaxed, happier, more focused and secure child.
For now though, here are some steps to get you started:
Remove broken toys
Throw away your child’s broken toys. This category should even include toys that you intend on fixing. If it happens to be a toy that your child loves, then remove it from their bedroom until you have repaired it.
Identify developmentally inappropriate toys
Keep toys out of your child’s room that they may only grow into in a few years. The simpler the toy, the longer their developmental life tends to be (for example, a wooden truck or a simple cloth doll). Unfortunately, most toys, especially those tied to something specific (for example, a character, television show, age range) have expiration dates.
Give toys that your children have outgrown to parents of younger children. Keep toys that you are sentimental about in storage. Don’t store these in your child’s room.
Conceptually fixed toys
These are toys that are detailed, molded plastic characters from movies, comic books or television shows. The challenge with these toys is that they do not encourage your child to use their imagination.
Toys that break easily and have too many mechanics
Toys with specialised functions that are prone to mechanical failure should be the next toys on your list. These toys are generally rigid in their concept, and they tend to take the place of your child’s imagination rather than inviting it.
Very high stimulation toys
These are the toys with the flashing lights, mechanical voices, speed and sounds effects. Many stimulation toys are designed to entertain and excite. They set the stimulation bar very high and can contribute to your child’s feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious.
Annoying or offensive toys
You will know these toys when you see them. These are the toys that offend the senses in some way. The toys that are bought for your children by someone who does not have children. They may make an awful noise, project an aggressive attitude or they may be quite ugly.
Toys that claim to enhance your child’s development
There is no toy that you can buy that will give your child the developmental edge. Toys will not make your child more creative, socially adept or smarter despite their claims. If you are feeling pressured to buy a toy because you are worried your child will fall behind developmentally without it, then this is not the toy you want to buy. Your child’s development is not a race.
Toys that pressure you to buy them
If you can identify a toy in your child’s toy pile that they have nagged, you for then you have already given in to this pressure. Included in this category are the ‘fad toys’ that play on your child’s fear of not having what everyone else has. Fads are self-regulating which means they generally fade out very quickly. You will not damage your child if you do not give in to this peer pressure.
Toys that inspire corrosive play
These kinds of toys do not only refer to playthings such as guns and other types of weapons. These toys are any toy that does not encourage play that is joyous or pleasant (e.g., violent video games and television shows).
It is unnecessary for a child to have many versions or copies of the same toy. Consider reducing the number to a more manageable and loveable little group.
Embarking on this journey of simplifying your child’s environment (in this case their toys) is not going to be easy. Do this when you are alone, and your child is away. It is also important that you eventually consider applying your newfound principles of simplification beyond your child’s bedroom and toys to the rest of your home environment.
If you want to get started but don’t know how then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can assist you.
Adapted from Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.