Every parent wants the best for their children. Often, it begins as an innocent desire to keep them happy, so parents buy kids the toys they want. But before they realize it, they find their house cluttered with toys, and their children bored out of their minds despite the pile of playthings surrounding them.
Above is a common predicament faced by all parents. But unfortunately, even well-meaning parents fail to see that more toys don't necessarily mean more fun for children, and excessive toys may even bore the boots off children. That's why it begs the question: How many toys should a child have?
Why Do Parents Feel the Urge to Buy More Toys for Their Children?
Naturally, kids are incapable of purchasing their toys, so the responsibility and the encouragement of the habit falls on the parents. Here are a few reasons:
Some parents fear that their kids might lose out if they don't get the latest toys on the market. Driven by the insatiable yearning to give them the best, parents give in to the impulse of toy buying.
Promising yet misleading commercials hoodwink some parents. Most toy companies give outrageously unrealistic claims to get parents into buying their toys.
Some parents give in to their child's demand for more toys. Every child wants more toys, but that doesn't mean they could lead the roost and corner parents at their behest.
The Dangers of Having Too Many Toys
Toys are good. But every parent must know that anything in excess can do more harm than good. Particularly, too many toys can affect a child's development. Here are some dangers of having too many toys:
• Excessive toys are overstimulating to the senses
Notice how a clutter-free office desk helps you focus more? Conversely, a messy one can impair your productivity and concentration. The same applies to children with too many toys. Kids fail to reap the benefit and enjoyment brought by each plaything because their focus is pulled in different directions.
• More toys mean less quality play
Allowing children to tinker with one toy builds their concentration and encourages them to play more creatively. Conversely, too many toys restrict their imagination because they focus more on the number of toys, not the quality of play that each plaything may offer.
• Having too many toys diminishes their perceived value
The beauty of having fewer toys is that kids learn to appreciate and express gratitude for things they have. But if we keep giving in to their toy demands, they'll value less the new toys they receive.
• Excessive toys are a boredom-promoter
If children's eyes are feasting over the sea of toys before them, they won't have room left for their imagination to do its magic. Children with fewer toys rely on their creativity to spice the playtime and prevent them from feeling bored.
• Fewer toys teach children to be more resourceful
In the same way that less-fortunate people innovate and find creative solutions to situations, children with fewer toys also become resourceful. They learn to do more with less at hand. A commendable guiding principle they may carry over to adulthood!
So How Many Toys Should A Child Have?
A handful of research papers indicate the influence of toy count on the quality of children's play and other psycho-social factors. However, little to no research suggests a definite answer to "how many toys should a child have?" Although this never stopped parents from theorizing about the optimum toy count for a child's enjoyment and productivity.
An author from The Motherish once shared her 20-Toy Rule online, suggesting that 20 toys are the best number of toys for children. But simply because it works on her son, it doesn't blanketly mean it's appropriate for other children.
For this purpose, Premium Joy surveyed how many toys a child needs by asking 1000 U.S. parents with children ages 3-12. Results reveal that 15% of kids play with 1-4 toys, 44% play with 5-10 toys, 10% play with 11-15 toys, and 11% play with 16-20 toys.
On average, most kids play with only 10 toys or less out of their collection. Although each child varies from one another, around 10 toys can be a good benchmark for how many toys should a child have.
While there's no scientific evidence suggesting an accurate number of toys for kids, the above is a rough estimate based on reports from parents.
Of course, it falls on you to observe and enforce the rule in your household. For example, when you notice that children neglect other toys to give way to newer ones, that should hint at their toy attention threshold. But you don't need to religiously stick to a specific number!
How Often Should You Buy Kids Toys?
Determining the benchmark number of toys is one thing. But knowing how frequently you should buy toys is another helpful metric.
According to Premium Joy, a parent in the U.S. buys 10 toys for kids each year, on average. But 1 in 10 parents reveals that they buy more than 24 toys annually.
Currently, no existing rule suggests a definite number of toys to buy kids. But buying them a new toy on special occasions like birthdays or Christmas wouldn't be so bad. And fetching them a new one when they've outgrown old toys is okay.
Cash-saving Tips for Parents on Toys
Determining the optimum number of toys for your child is only one part of the solution. There are other critical aspects you need to consider to ensure the best possible learning for your child, and it will also save your budget from overspending on toys. Here are some:
1. Buy Open-ended toys
The goal of having fewer toys is to foster children's creativity during playtime. However, a parent defeats that purpose when buying children toys that do all the work. Electronic toys with dedicated button-operated functions don't leave much room for a child's imagination to flourish.
As a rule, playtime should be 10% toy and 90% child, which means children maintain control throughout the playtime.
2. Consider selling or trading kids' old functional toys
One solution to save money when buying your kid new toys is to sell the ones they no longer use. Then, at the very least, the profits you may incur can cover some of the cost of the new toy.
Conversely, if you have friends with children of the same age as yours, you may consider trading some of your child's toys. The exchange will create a fresh look in your child's playroom.
3. Try to practice toy rotation
If you don't want to add any more to their vast collection of toys, toy rotation might just do the trick.
Toy rotation means leaving some of their toys out for a period and keeping the rest. Then, after some time, you replace the toys with the ones kept in storage. This way, you condition your child's brain that they're playing with a new set of toys, thus, eliminating the need to get new ones.
4. Buy toys with top-notch quality
Sometimes, parents are moved to buy new toys because the toys they previously bought are of poor quality. Unfortunately, toys made from cheap materials typically don't last as long as those made from premium, non-toxic, and laboratory-tested materials.
Looking for High-Quality Open-ended Toys to Add to Your Child's Collection?
Children learn best through play, and toys are the tools to make this happen. So apart from choosing open-ended and high-quality toys, finding ones that pique their interest and effectively introduce them to the world is just as critical.
Visit TheSTEMKids' arsenal of science toys if you're looking for toys that will bring joy to children and ultimately instill an undying passion for learning!