Less is best when it comes to our kid’s toys and their brain development and creativity. Having fewer toys leads to healthier play and deeper cognitive development.
Many psychologists and researchers are finding out that investing in activities, creating memories and experiences, and developing bonds with children over material items are far more beneficial.
So why are we bombarded with advertisements and movies that say we need mountains of toys and options to keep our kids entertained? Why do we even believe we have to constantly entertain, educate, and play with our children? Well, in my opinion, it is because of consumerism and the fact that children make a lot of people rich. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Today, I want to give you nine reasons fewer toys are better for your child’s brain development.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.
9 REASONS HAVING FEWER TOYS IS BETTER FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT
1. Encourages creativity and innovation
When a toy does all of the thinking for the child, it eliminates the child’s opportunity to be creative and use that toy in multiple ways.
Consider replacing the commonly advertised toys with open-ended toys such as blocks, balls, peg dolls, legos, Magna-tiles, silk scarves, etc. Try to avoid battery-operated toys, charactered toys from movies and shows, and other toys that serve only one function or can only ever be one thing. The less the toy does, the more your child’s brain will do.
2. Encourages more outdoor play, reading, and art
It is okay for children to be bored. It is not a requirement of “good parenting” to entertain our children every time they find themselves bored. When kids have a room full of toys and say they are bored, parents feel the need to run out and buy (consume) more to curve the boredom or hand them a screen. Fewer toys + boredom = children going outside to play on nature’s playground, read a book, or engage in the arts.
There is a huge decline in outdoor play for children that must change, for the sake of our kids. Richard Louv has a great book regarding the importance of outdoor play for children.
3. Fewer toys create a peaceful and clutter-free environment
Imagine going into the office and your desk is cluttered but you still have work to do. How do you feel? Stressed? Overwhelmed? I know that my home is my work and I cannot think, focus, or enjoy what I am doing when there is clutter.
It is the same for our children. Their play is their “work” and a cluttered environment is just as stressful for them and gives them anxiety. Instead, we want to create a peaceful and clutter-free environment by minimizing the number of toys in their play spaces and the home.
4. Encourages deep and focused play
When we have too many options, our brain feels pulled to each of those options. Just like looking our to-do list and trying to figure out what to do next, we’re not able to deeply engage in the one task in front of us. This is because we are subconsciously thinking of all of the other options of tasks we could be doing instead.
Our children feel overwhelmed and depending on their age, may not understand why or how to express this. It is likely because they have too many options. Therefore children move from one toy to the next quickly because they fear they are missing out on fun with that toy. FOMO.
5. Fewer toys encourage gratitude
The less you have the more you can appreciate those things that bring joy. If you had only one bottle of water in the desert, wouldn’t you cherish it and appreciate every sip a little more? There is a reason minimalism and simple living is a huge thing right now. This leads me to reason number six.
6. Fewer toys teach kids to make intentional and mindful decisions
When you have fewer options, you can slow down and make a conscious decision. There is less pressure to hurry and decide what to play with next. This practice of making intentional and mindful decisions will serve our children in all areas of their lives, not just with play decisions.
7. Helps kids practice sharing
When children fight and argue over toys, we think providing another toy will help. Often times it just backfires because now they have another toy to fight over. Oddly enough, if there are fewer toys, children are naturally forced to share, collaborate and work with one another.
Can you imagine how this ability to collaborate could be beneficial in school, careers, and partnerships?
8. Encourages independent play
Remember reason number four, fewer toys encourage deep and focused play? Well, that leads to more independent play. Yes, you get a break! Ha, no, this really does work. Independent play is an important aspect of development. It is healthy and builds healthy habits for life. It also teaches our kids they can be alone.
9. Fewer toys creates resiliency
Resiliency is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors (source). So how does having fewer toys actually lead to resiliency?
Well, it’s everything you just read. Creativity, innovation, environment, focus, gratitude, intentionality, mindfulness, collaboration, and independence are all important factors in building the skills that then develop resiliency. That boredom you might see from time to time after minimizing toys will be a good thing.
And it can all come from something as simple as having fewer toys in your child’s environment.
START A TOY ROTATION
Now that we have a few, nine to be exact, reasons to consider minimizing our children’s toys, don’t feel like you have to donate or throw everything away right now. I recommend setting up a toy rotation. If you have a storage area in your home, garage, basement, or closet, then you can create a space to store toys for this rotation.
First, gather all of the toys in the house and put them in one spot. Next, separate the toys into categories. For example, transportation, music, dramatic play, figurines, etc. are all categories of toys. If a toy is broken or missing pieces, it’s time to throw it away or recycle it.
Next, you will want to get a few bins or baskets (use whatever you have on hand first and purchase a few more if you have to). You are going to label these bins by category. I had my husband put up a few old racks we had in our garage so that I could have a place to store toys and books. I opted for smaller bins for storing shelf activity toys to set a boundary on how many toys we could have in general. My bins are also labeled based on the developmental categories.
Finally, decide which toys are going to be out for the first rotation and store the rest in the designated storage space. Once you notice your kiddos are playing with the first rotation less, then go ahead and swap toys for a second rotation and so forth.
A toy rotation breathes new life into old toys without needed to buy new and more toys constantly. Check out this blog post about Montessori Shelves by Ashley & Kevin at the Montessori Method blog.
OTHER BLOG POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY
Are you tired of the never-ending pile of toys dumped out on the floor or your kids only playing for a few minutes before getting bored? Which of these 9 reasons interest you most as a reason to declutter and minimize the toys in your home?
PIN IT FOR LATER