Some of you may have seen over on my Facebook page that my husband’s grandfather passed away this weekend. (If you aren’t following me there, I would love for you to go over there and click ‘Like‘ 😉 ). We will be traveling this week for his funeral. I would appreciate your prayers that our kids would travel well and for comfort for the family. If I am a bit quiet around here, please understand. I will still be posting, but not as much as usual. Thanks for understanding.
I think most of us realize that Limiting Toys Helps Our Kids, but sometimes the problem is we don’t know what to get rid of. There is no perfect way, and much of it depends on personalities, family interests, and even family values. Today, I am sharing five things to consider when deciding which toys stay and which ones go.
We often end up with a few stragglers here and there, but keeping these considerations in mind really helps me decide on what toys to keep.
1. Avoid Over-Stimulating Toys.
Toys with loud noises and flashing lights are usually over-stimulating to a child. This is especially true for babies, and yet the majority of toys you see for infants are these types of toys.
Not only do these types of toys over-stimulate a child’s brain, they also usually simply expect a child to sit and look at it. Oh, sure, it might be a boat to play with, but really, the goal of the toy is to hear all the songs and gimmicks and to see the bright, colorful flashing lights. The child is left with little need to do anything but sit and be entertained.
2. Avoid Toys that are Not Part of a Collective Group.
These types of toys will usually also be part of the over-stimulating category making it really worth getting rid of! If you have many random toys that don’t work well with anything else, they are probably not going to be played with much. Dolls with their clothes and accessories, a kitchen with dishes and vegetables, small vehicles, etc, are all examples of groups of toys. They all go together and work well together. An array of random toys adds clutter and is difficult for a child to play with.
I observe this in the church nursery all the time. In the two-year-old nursery, I love to watch and analyze what kids do. They come in and dump every single toy out onto the floor, and then without fail they leave the toys and go get books and puzzles. This is mainly because these toys are not really groups of anything. A lot of random toys, however nice they are, are difficult for a child to know what to do with beyond the initial few minutes. (And, yes, I realize that it is probably strange that I observe and analyze children when I am on nursery duty, but I find it fascinating. 😉 )
3. Choose Interactive Toys.
The kind of toys that are best for a child’s brain are also good for their motor skills, and will occupy more hours of play. Interactive toys allow a child to decide how to play. It requires them to talk and narrate the happenings, build something, and create either an object or a scenario.
Types of toys that are interactive: building toys (blocks, Legos, etc.), dolls, stuffed animals, kitchen and food, vehicles, trains, etc.
One note on these types of toys: You should probably consider picking just a few of these. It is difficult for a child to create anything if he has just a few pieces from many different sets. Choose what you want and then start adding to it. This is also helpful for family members as they know what the child has and can give additional pieces to complement what you already have for birthdays.
4. Choose Toys That Cross Ages and Gender.
If the toys can be enjoyed by several age levels than you know you have a keeper of a toy! For instance, Olivia (at two) enjoys our wooden blocks by building a tower and knocking it down. Stefan (at four) enjoys building forts or cities with the blocks. Stefan has also just gotten into Legos and, seeing as his Dad enjoys them as an adult, I am quite certain that he will still enjoy them at ten.
It is difficult to keep up with toys if you have to have an entire new set every time your child reaches a new milestone. Great, quality, interactive toys will grow with the child.
5. Choose Toys that Mix Well.
My son builds a city with his blocks, and then drives his cars around the city (or build a ramp for the cars 😉 ). The kids will cook at the kitchen and then feed their dolls. Stefan often mixes all his toy sets together in very imaginative ways.
Using these considerations as a type of sieve helps me look at toys more objectively. Each time we do a toy purge, I use this as my guideline for what to get rid of. It has really helped to not only curb the toys in the house, but to also make sure we keep the good ones!
Your turn! What guidelines do you use for determining what toys you keep and which ones you purge?