Too many toys?

Do you feel your child has too many toys? Here are some suggestions on what you can do about it.

I thought it was only my child who had boxes and bins overflowing with toys, but when we visited a friend for a play date, she too had a room filled with toys and a lot of them were also stuffed into containers. She upended the containers so she and my daughter could rummage through them, coming up with countless odds and ends. It made me think that there was definitely something off here.


Toys everywhere


Melissa Pizaña-Cruz, head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University, says that in the past, children had less access to toys. Toy stores were few and not heavily stocked. Today, we not only have huge toy stores at every turn, but she says, “you have toys that cost 100 pesos or less. They are very affordable for a lot of families. Instinctively, we know it’s not good to have too much of anything, but it’s hard to put it in moderation because the accessibility is so high.”

Problem with too many toys

Kids tend to feel overwhelmed when there are too many toys before them, says Anne Santos, former preschool teacher and mother of four-year-old Tiago. “When it happens, they don't play with the toys so much, thus it defeats the learning purpose of the toy,” she explains.

“The problem with having too many toys is that it’s distracting,” agrees Pizaña-Cruz. “Because you have so many other toys, your attention keeps shifting and does not focus on one thing for a long period of time. Kids don’t know what to play with and they still get bored. More toys do not equal less boredom.” 

Furthermore, it can also be a space issue. “My daughter is only four years old but since she was born, there have been so many occasions for people to give gifts (baby shower, baptism, birthday, Christmas) to the point where we have so many toys and clothes,” explains Criselle Alejandro. “Of course I appreciate that my child is so blessed to have so many things. But it's come to a point where there's no more space at home for all her things.”


Ideas to de-clutter

1. Instead of gifts, ask for donations

“For my daughter’s birthday recently, I've asked that people donate old toys and clothes instead,” says Criselle. “They say charity begins at home and I'd like to teach my daughter this value. So I'm planning to have my daughter choose toys and clothes to donate, and together with donations I've gotten for her birthday, we'll go to an orphanage where she can share her things with others.”

2. Donate toys you don’t need anymore


“I make it a point to give away, hand down, or donate toys once a year so we don't accumulate too much,” says Anne. “I usually get rid of those that Tiago has outgrown already.” Just remember to tell your child what you’re giving away or involve him in the process so he doesn’t look for a toy that’s no longer there.

3. Rotate the toys


Keep toys fresh by only having a few out at a time. “Tiago's current favorite toys are almost always in theme with his current interests, so those are the toys that are out,” explains Anne. “Then when I notice that a toy or toys have not been played with for like a month, I keep those and bring out ‘new’ ones. These are old ones or ones that have not been opened yet.”

4. Swap toys with friends


Round up a group of friends whose children are the same age (maybe even the same gender) and you could rotate toys. Put together toys your child is willing to share and then every two weeks or so, pass the toys around. This will also teach your kids the value of taking care of toys that do not belong to them.   

5. Encourage more creative toys

Pay attention to what your child is playing with and when you can, gently steer him towards those that boost imagination and learning. Pizaña-Cruz says these are usually manipulatives such as blocks, Lego, and so on. Kids tire easily of toys that move when you push a button, but toys that help them think encourage development and create lasting childhood memories.

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For parenting inquiries, contact:Center for Family Ministries (CeFaM) Spiritual Pastoral Center at the Ateneo de Manila University Campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Telefax: 426-4285. Telephone: 426-4289 up to 92 E-mail: cefam@admu.edu.ph

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Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.


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