Parents will do anything to make their children happy. This includes saying ‘yes’ whenever they ask for the latest toys (Cocomelon toys, anyone?). Sometimes, they don’t even need to ask — ninongs and ninangs will also give it as gifts come Christmas time.
Toys can help develop your child’s brain and improve skills in language, problem-solving, and social interaction. But experts say that having too many toys can actually have the opposite effect and get in the way of your child’s development.
Is it bad for a child to have too many toys?
For their research, they asked 36 toddlers to play with either four or 16 toys for 30-minute free-play sessions.
The children who played with fewer toys were actively engaged for longer periods, “thinking up more uses for each toy and lengthening and expanding their games, allowing for better focus to explore and play more creativity — qualities that benefit children in the long term.”
Meanwhile, toddlers who played with 16 toys spent less time with each toy and moved from one to another more frequently.
Can too many toys cause problems?
Parents might think that it would be better for their kids to have more options, but too many toys can actually interfere with playtime. Children can get overwhelmed and become unable to concentrate on one thing long enough to learn from it so they just shut down, according to childhood development researcher Claire Lerner.
“Too many toys mean they are not learning to play imaginatively either,” she says.
How to tell if you have too many toys
But how many toys is ‘too many’? Here are some easy ways to tell, so you can finally start decluttering (and have less mess!).
1. Your child gets bored easily.
When your child has too many options in front of him, the tendency is that he will play with the toys expecting to be amused, instead of playing with it and unlocking different skills. If he plays with one toy only to discard it after 15 minutes or so, and complains that he is bored, it can be a sign that he has too many toys.
2. There are a lot of broken toys and your child expects you to replace each one.
For some kids, getting a toy they’ve always wanted teaches them to be grateful and to handle these special gifts with care. However, if your tendency is to give in to their demands, they might take you for granted and keep asking for more.
If your child’s broken toys have piled up, either try to repair them or get rid of them completely before getting new ones.
3. He still has toys that are no longer developmentally appropriate.
Just like other forms of clutter, some parents are guilty of keeping toys because of emotional attachment or they think they will still have use for it later on. But if you still have baby toys lying around when your child is a preschooler, then it’s time to donate or pass them on to other kids.
4. You have multiple versions of one toy.
After the holidays, you might suddenly discover that your child has multiples of the same toy. It can be different versions or colors and it’s definitely a sign that your child has too many toys.
Carefully go through each one and let your child pick their favorite. Ask yourself the hard questions: How many cars does your child need? How many dinosaurs? Once you’ve gotten your answers, donate and pass it on!
5. Your child always asks for new toys.
If your child has gotten used to having too many toys, he will likely ask for more. According to play therapist Becky Mansfield in her blog Your Modern Family, another sign that your child has too many toys is that he asks for more things (from seeing toys on commercials and in stores) more than once a day or every few days.
What do you do when your child has too many toys
You don’t have to get rid of all the toys, of course. Rather, it is better to scale down and spend more time playing with your child. Trust us, it will do them a lot of good.
According to a study by Kathy Sylva, a professor of educational psychology, kids who have fewer toys and spend more time interacting with their parents do better in emotional and social development than kids with more toys. Remember: toys can’t replace quality time with your kids!