Wondering if your child has too many toys? Well, if your living room looks like a Toys ’R Us store, you’ll do your child no harm by reducing the clutter.
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they’re sitting in what used to be their loungeroom but now more closely resembles the toy section of Big W or Kmart.
Between birthdays, Christmas, McHappy meals and random gifts given as ‘rewards’ or bribes throughout the year, you can soon find yourself crowded out of your personal adult space by pieces of brightly coloured plastic and fluffy toy animals.
It’s at this point one asks the logical question, how many toys is too many toys? Did we have this many toys as kids, does a kid need this many? We live in an increasingly materialistic society in which escaping from advertising and marketing is, short of complete retreat from the world, close to impossible. Just watch any kid’s cartoon show on commercial TV to experience the advertising onslaught for all manner of child-oriented junk.
Researchers at the University of Toledo in the US attempted to answer this question last year when they recruited 36 toddlers and invited them to play in a room for half an hour with either four toys, or 16 toys. What happened?
Well, turns out the kids were far more creative when they had fewer toys to play with.
The experiment saw kids playing with each toy for twice as long and thinking up more uses for each toy, thereby lengthening and expanding their games. The researchers advised parents, schools and kindies that they should try rotating a small number of toys regularly, encouraging children to become more creative and improve their attention spans.
It makes sense and is in many ways obvious from observation of your own children. The more stuff, the less they can concentrate, flitting from one thing to another but settling on no particular toy. Too many toys, basically, is like a permanent Christmas morning of crazy over-stimulation.
Of course, taking the decision to limit the number of toys you allow your child to play with at any one time invites the real hard part: dealing with the little one’s undiminished desire to have every little thing they see on television or in the store.
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