Is there such a thing as “Loving our kids too much”??? I hope not, but if you are only considering the love language of “gift giving” then, yes, that might be a thing. Having too many toys can lead to a sense of entitlement, boredom, distraction and generally the apocalypse of the entire world! Ok, maybe not that last part, but if you google “children and too many toys” you have a lot of reasons to pare down. Let’s look at a few.
Encourage sharing: When children have so many toys, they can silo themselves off from others. When there are plenty of toys to go around, who needs to share or play cooperatively? Why bother problem solving a way to let everyone have a turn?
Broaden their creativity: If they don’t have a toy that does one specific thing, then they can improvise with something else. Pretend! Yes! Let them pretend! Get those brain synapses firing on all cylinders!
Increase gratitude: The fewer you have, the more care will be taken, knowing that there aren’t ten other toys similar to it within reach. An adult version might be having ten cars vs. one. I drive one car. I have it serviced regularly and keep it washed and waxed to protect it from the elements. I park and drive it carefully so as not to get it dinged in any way. I am thankful for my car. If I had ten would I take as much care with all of those cars? Probably not. After all, I can always drive another one if this one gets worn down.
Increase concentration: When a child is given numerous choices, he doesn’t develop the skill of focusing on just one. If there is always one more choice, there is no need to slow down and really consider the toy at hand. Figuring out how it works, what else it might be able to do, are all by products of slowing down and having the chance to contemplate something.
To a child, often the box a toy came in is more appealing than the toy itself. - Allen Klein
Decrease sense of Entitlement: We tend to shower our kids with gifts for birthdays and holidays. I get it. You want there to be sense of this being a magical time. That’s a high bar to set, though. If they get (or just have) a lot of toys, they begin to think that this is just normal. It’s not magical. And by golly, they have been primed for magic. If we set that bar to a more realistic level (one toy/holiday) then the sense of appreciation is heightened. Warning: if you suddenly go from ten gifts to one, you will need to have a conversation beforehand that there is a shift in gift giving. Consider experience gifts - a trip to the zoo or children’s museum, a family bowing outing, “Donuts for Dinner!” Be creative. Be silly. That’s where the magic happens.
Developing intrinsic rewards: When we reward our children with “things” for simply being a good responsible human, then we remove the intrinsic reward of enjoying the feeling of a job well done. The internal sense of joy and pride is replaced (robbed?) with a sticker or star or toy. It’s fine to acknowledge a job well done, but it doesn’t have to be accompanied by a physical object. (This is a soapbox issue for me, so I’ll just stop here.)
Empowering them to control their environment: It’s much easier to organize when you have fewer toys. (You knew I was going to get to organizing eventually, right?) When a child can put the toys away with ease, there is an intrinsic sense of accomplishment. They have control over their area. It’s not overwhelming them. This brings a sense of autonomy out of which flows peace.
I don't think we can love our children too much. I think how we choose to show that love is important to consider. Parenting is hard, but you are not alone. I'm in your corner and I will be praying for you as you walk this road. Know you can always reach out with any concerns or questions.
Much love, friends.
You will always be your child’s favorite toy. - Vicki Lanky
Laura ~ your organizing girlfriend