Are you kidding me? My children were fighting over the same toy again. I’m not kidding I had literally threatened to duck tape them together if they didn’t figure out how to get along. My youngest loved the idea, while my oldest was mortified.
But, the problem wasn’t that they didn’t know how to get along, the problem was that they had too many toys. The simple truth is, when kids have too many toys they’re gonna fight over them.
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In fact, the more toys kids have, the more they argue to claim their dominance over a particular object. I saw this over and over again as an Early Childhood Director.
The more cars that were out the more the kids argued over who got which car. Honestly, when too many toys are out the kids would spend more time fighting than they were playing! But when they were only given one or two cars, guess what, they quickly learn how to play together.
As a mom who survived the early childhood years and then took a job as an Early Childhood Director ( I know, I know, what was I thinking), I learned that when it comes to toys more is definitely not better.
Too many toys are not good. Here is what happens when kids have too many toys and more importantly what you can do about it!
Children With Too Many Toys Have a Harder Time Sharing
Think about it, children naturally love to share. Babies love to give you things and have you give those things back. As toddlers, if you give them a bowl full of treats they will happily offer one to every person in the room. This is because children that are relaxed and comfortable, love to share their favorite things.
So why is it that a young child who has many toys struggles to share?
The answer is simple, having too many toys actually causes stress on children. This stress prevents kids from feeling relaxed and secure, which in turn causes them to fail to share.
Children With Too Many Toys Become Over Stimulated
Children quickly become overwhelmed when they have too many toys. They don’t know what to do with all those things.
Children have an immature nervous system, making it difficult for them to process a lot of stimuli at one time. This over stimulation can make them wild and crazy, making it difficult to get them to focus and concentrate.
According to an article in the Guardian, too many toys can harm children. Claire Lerner, a child-development worker, carried out a US government-funded study into the effect of inundating children with toys. She found that too many playthings can restrict development and may harm children.
“They get overwhelmed and over-stimulated and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it so they just shut down. Too many toys means they are not learning to play imaginatively either,”
Too Many Toys Limit Their Creativity
Joshua Becker, in his book Clutterfree with Kids: he explains how two German Health Worders (Strick & Schubert) conducted an experiment in which they convinced a kindergarten classroom to remove all toys for three months. All though boredom set in initially, the children soon began to invent games, and use their imaginations, to play.
This study shows that too many toys prevent kids from developing their imagination. It also shows that kids do naturally use their imaginations to play when you remove the excess toys.
They Don’t Take Care of Their Toys
When Children have an excess amount of toys they are not able to understand the value of their things. What you don’t value, you don’t respect.
When something gets broken it’s no big deal, they think I was bored with it, I’ll play with this other toy. They may even realize their birthday is coming soon and they’ll just get a new one. The problem is that kids can’t learn to value things if there is always a replacement.
Too Many Toys Prevents Children From Learning To Entertain Themselves
Giving children toys that do the imagining for them trains them to need to be entertained. They fail to come up with things on their own or learn to make their own fun.
The next thing you know, your kids will end up needing you for every little thing. If you are feeling like you need to keep them busy throughout your day at home, they probably have too many toys.
They Don’t Get Enough Physical Exercise
Your kids are far more likely to play outside if they do not have a room full of toys. I see this even with my teenager. When I take away his phone, he goes outside to skateboard or rides his bike.
Children that play outdoors more, get more physical exercise. Exercise helps children on so many levels. Children that get plenty of physical exercise are not just healthier, but they are also happier and they even sleep better.
Kids With Too Many They Don’t Learn to Problem Solve
When kids have too many toys they don’t learn important problem-solving skills. When kids struggle to figure out how to work a difficult toy, they give up and grab the next toy that is easier.
Too many toys prevent your kids from being self-starters and figuring things out for themselves.
Kids With Too Many Toys Argue More
The more toys the more arguments, it’s as simple as that.
Kids become possessive and will argue with each other over playing with a particular toy when there are many toys. However, if there are only a few toys available they naturally learn to play together well.
Kids with Too Many Toys are Always Wanting More.
Too many toys will lead to discontentment. When children are surrounded by toys they are unable to find satisfaction. Because they are always receiving something new, they are always wanting more.
I can remember one Christmas when my niece was very young. She was the only little girl and surrounded by a houseful of boys. The first present she opened she was so happy and didn’t want to put it down. However, there were many more toys and fun girl things to be opened.
By the time the last gift was opened, rather than being able to enjoy all that she received, she was upset that the presents had stopped. She didn’t even care about the toys she just wanted more.
They Are Messy
Not only do kids get overwhelmed with the number of toys that they have, they get overwhelmed by the mess those toys make.
Have you ever asked your child to go clean their room and later go check on them to find they have done nothing? The problem is they just don’t know where to start because there is so much there. So they do nothing.
The mess then becomes overwhelming for everyone, especially mom.
We’ve talked a lot about the negative effect too many toys has on children. However, toys in and of themselves are not bad. Toys can actually inspire constructive and imaginative play. Think Legos, dress up clothes and art supplies.
The problem comes from an excess number of toys. But don’t worry if you find that your kids have too many toys. I have some very practical solutions for you that you can start implementing today!
The only way to help your kids overcome the problems associated with too many toys is to eliminate the excess.
I know – this is easier said than done. But the fact that it’s not easy does not mean it’s impossible. To make it simple and avoid overwhelming you and your kids go slow.
To start, remove Old toys that are no longer played with. If it is not useful there is no reason for it to be taking up space in your home. If you know that your kids are no longer playing with those toys, they will never miss them if they are gone.
Next get rid of all those random free toys that come with Happy Meals and birthday party gift bags. Follow that by getting rid of all broken toys and all duplicate toys.
My kids never even noticed when I got rid of these types of toys.
After all, these types of toys are cleared out of your home, it’s time to start looking at those large toys that take up a lot of room. If they are not beloved items regularly played with remove them.
For the remaining toys involve your kids in the decluttering process. Talk to them and let them know why you want to limit the number of toys they have. At the same time, assure your child you will not take away those toys that your child truly loves and thinks is special.
Next, let them help make decisions as to what stays and goes. However, do remember your child will most likely want to keep everything, so give them specific options. Choose 4 or 5 toys and ask which one do you want to keep? When they realize they only get to pick one or two to keep, you are teaching them how to think through decisions.
Prevent Toys from Creeping Back In
Let’s get real here, your kids aren’t buying toys for themselves, they are coming from you or from well-meaning relatives.
I want you to stop and ask yourself “why are there too many toys in my home”? Now, remember you are the parent and that means you set the boundaries.
The first boundary you need to set is to stop buying your kids every latest toy.
Next talk to your relatives and let them know ahead of time that you are trying to limit the number of toys in your home.
When you talk to them, help them out by offering alternative gift ideas. Gifts that create experiences like movie tickets, tickets to the zoo, ice cream shops are great alternatives to toys.
Be prepared, have a list of things that your family values that would make great gift ideas for the kids. For some more ideas check out this post that has lots of none toy gift ideas.
Just remember to be gracious if your family and friends end up buying your kids more toys than you would like. After all, they are buying gifts because they love your kids. It is really important to accept their gifts, with graciousness and gratitude.
Besides, you can always look at getting rid of some of the older toys or let your kiddos play with them for a time and then consider donating or passing them on.
Have a Limited Amount of Space For Toys.
When there are physical space limitations for holding toys, you teach your kids that if they get a new toy they will have to get rid of an older one. The one in one out rule applies. When we know we have to get rid of something we already own we only buy those things we really can use.
As an added benefit, your Your kids will learn the importance of choosing carefully.
Have Regular Times of Purging.
To keep the excess at bay, it is important to schedule regular times of purging. Write it down in your calendar the same way you would any other appointment.
I like to purge before Christmas, birthdays and at the end of summer. I have found that my kids were much more receptive to getting rid of more things at these time.
These are the times my kids would always get new items so they were much more likely to give up things.
Find the time that works best for your family and schedule on your planner.
Focus on the Positive
Now that you have many of the excess toys cleared from your home, emphasize all the positive things this has brought to your home.
Regularly comment about how nice their room looks all clean and tidy. Point out how easy it is now to find things
Point out that you have extra time now that everything is clean and organized and allow them to do something special with the extra time. Create a fun experience, go get ice cream, go for a walk as a family or play a game with them.
It won’t be long before you and your kids see all the benefits of less. In the meantime, be patient and stay strong, getting rid of the toys may be the best decision you ever make.
As always my sweet friend, live simply, live intentionally and make each day your favorite day!