With the gift-giving season fast approaching, I was inspired by John Rosemond’s New Parent Power! book to reduce and rethink my approach to toys. He writes, “Today, we overdose [kids] with mass-produced toys that stimulate relatively little imaginative thought.” So, I am going to evaluate my kids’ toys for their play value: Does it require creativity? Can it be transformed from one thing to another? Does it encourage manipulation? If not, it’s gone! [This also works for evaluating which toys to buy for the kids on your Christmas list.]
I have always been selective with toys for my kids but I wasn’t really sure of the criteria I was looking for. Rosemond’s book really opened my eyes on how to keep toys to a minimum and, thus, actually have kids spend more time in independent play! It makes so much sense when you think about it.
I couldn’t believe how many toys we got for Charlie’s first birthday this fall. It seems that since he’s the second kid–and a boy–people were more apt to buy toys with bells and whistles, but they were one-dimensional. Both my kids were impressed with the toys at first, but within a couple weeks, they were “done” because they had quickly exhausted all the creative possibilities.
Rosemond writes that kids are overwhelmed by all their toys and become bored with them precisely because they have so many. I saw this first-hand with the pile of toys that began to take over our living room. I had never seen Avery so “bored” and requesting tv as she was the past couple months. I attributed it to her age and to my weakening resolve not to watch tv (which is probably partly to blame, too) until I read this book.
Today’s toys often do only one thing, which limits kids’ ability to use imagination and creativity. And instead of solving the problem, parents continue to buy new toys to satisfy their boredom, which makes the problem worse. Did you know that, according to Rosemond, many toy companies make toys with puropsefully–and profitably–short life spans because the average American child is a toy addict? Rosemond continues, “Why make toys that last when the average child is more concerned with getting than with the quality of what’s gotten? Most toys are designed to attract a child’s attention and curiousity but not to hold his or her interest.” This is why children lose interest in most toys really quickly.
Rosemond recommends instead: Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector sets, art materials, dolls, blocks, trains, cars, small plastic figures, books and other “classic” toys that stand the test of time. These are the kinds of toys I am putting on my kids’ Christmas list … as soon as I go through their many other toys that have long been forgotten! Part of the process also will be to reorganize the toys that we keep. This will likely take many Tuesdays between now and next year because it requires reorganizing the office and closet, but just to minimize the number of toys will make a huge difference.
Read more Tacke it Tuesday entries at 5 Minutes for Mom.