If you’re scratching your head and wondering what to buy your kids this Christmas, then you can stop now — things are about to get clearer for you. That’s because researchers have found that kids who have fewer toys to play with have a better time playing. It seems that it’s better to give kids one toy they can focus on rather than a whole box of things. Not only does this mean less clutter in your home, but it also means your kids will learn to play in a more creative manner.
The study was published in theInfant Behavior and Development journal. In this study, researchers wrote how children who had fewer toys to play with had more “imagination and skill development.” These kids were also far less distracted. Probably because they weren’t switching from one toy to another.
The study was conducted with children under three years of age. Some of the kids were given four toys and others were given 16. What the researchers found was that having fewer toys to play with “promotes development and healthy play.” This method also helped the children’s “creativity, imagination and skill development.”
Accordingly, the researchers concluded that it would be better to store some of the toys away from the eyes of the kids. That way, the little ones can focus on the few toys that are available. “When provided with fewer toys in the environment,” the study reads, “toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively.”
“When there is an abundance of toys,” the research reads, “small collections can be rotated into play while the majority is stored away, providing opportunities for novelty without creating the distraction posed by having too many toys available.” One idea is to store some of the toys away and give some of them back at Christmas. This method would save you money during this time of the year.
And if you’re like the typical British parent, then you would probably be saving more than a couple of dollars by regifting the toys back to your kids. You see, British parents “spend an average of $278 on toys” for their kids during Christmas. That’s a considerable amount of money that could be put to good use on other more pressing issues, especially if the kids are already drowning in toys.
Usually, they are. A typical British kid, for instance, has 238 toys. The thing is, 95 percent of these toys are often left unused. Parents are always complaining about the fact that their kids have so many toys but end up playing with common, everyday things and well, that’s usually the case for most parents.
Children in the US aren’t toy deprived either. Just to give you an idea of how much US kids have in terms of toys, here’s an interesting figure for you: “3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States," but nevertheless, they own 40 percent of the toys in the world. Maybe you should hold off on buying your kids yet another toy.
So maybe regifting them the same toys may not be such a bad idea. Look, if they’re drowning in toys already, they aren’t going to remember everything they have. Plus, if they get everything at once, they lose that sense of appreciation for getting something new.
You can also start new traditions with your kids this year. If they have all they really need to be joyful and appreciative, then you can opt to give your kids experiences this year. Rather than spending money on material things, you can decide together what kind of experiences you want to enjoy the following year.
Maybe you can take a rock climbing class together or learn an instrument together. Maybe they want to travel to a country they are fascinated by. You can also find a volunteering gig that you can do as a family.
You don’t even have to spend a ton of money or go big to experience new things together. You can promise to have family night once a week, where you can play board games or sports. You can watch old movies together once a week or go camping in the backyard if it’s something you love. You can even promise to make time at least once a week to cook together, if that’s something your kids enjoy doing. Or you can even let them stay up late on Saturdays to look at the stars. It’s interesting the intimate conversations you can have with your kids when it’s just you and the stars.
Kids want a lot of things. Hell, we want a lot of things, too. But usually, if we have one another, then we already have everything we need. If you live by that philosophy and you’re grateful with what you have at the moment, then your kids will get that too.