Don’t you hate it when toys are a hit and miss with kids? You get them an amazing toy, perhaps one they’ve even been rambling for months, only to find them spend playing for a few days and abandon it altogether. It can be a real headache, but this reality is nothing out of the ordinary for parents.
Countless perfectly working toys are thrown out because kids don’t play with them. On average, children lose interest in a toy in a little over a month. At the same time, 8% of parents claim that kids get bored of toys in less than an hour.
So what are the reasons why some toys bore the boots off kids? And are there any workarounds to keep this from happening?
Let’s find out!
5 Reasons Why Children Find Their Toys Boring
Reason #1: Children experience habituation
Notice how when you enter a busy restaurant for the first time, you tend to hear every buzzing conversation for several minutes. But you block the noise out and focus on your own company once you’re seated and settled in — that’s habituation.
Habituation is the state of decreased emotional or psychological response to a frequently occurring stimulus. So the more kids are exposed to the same toy, the less excited they become relative to their first exposure.
As the excitement fades, children will want to move on to another toy that will rekindle their interest. Habituation can occur in a span of months, weeks, or even hours.
Reason #2: The toys are not developmentally appropriate
Playtime is a critical pillar that bridges the gap between children and their environment. Through play, they learn to understand how the world around them works, and toys are the tools of the trade to this end.
Most toy companies are guilty of advertising toys like STEM toys as great learning tools, but that’s not always the case. Every child is different, and their penchant for toys may vary. In addition, some toys may be too far ahead of others’ developmental levels, so kids may abandon a toy because they don’t have any idea how to enjoy it.
Reason #3: The toys are not open-ended
Open-ended toys are the best toy classification for children because they are playthings with no definitive endpoint on how kids can use them. That means children are offered limitless opportunities to facilitate the course of the playtime, and not the toy dictating how they should play — this is one fundamental importance of open-ended toys and play.
One reason why toys bore the boots off kids is when they have predetermined rules to direct the playtime. Like adults, kids want to have autonomy over how they play, and open-ended toys are the ones that enable them to do this.
So, as a rule of thumb, toys should be 10% toy and 90% child. Meaning kids retain complete control over how they wield their toys.
Reason #4: The toys don’t pique their interest
If the open-ended nature nor the developmental appropriateness of a toy isn’t in question, then maybe a child’s reluctance to play is merely preferential. Similar to adults, children have `interests too. And if a toy doesn’t resonate with their preferences, they might quickly get bored or refrain from playing with the toys altogether.
Being present in your child’s affairs is a prerequisite to knowing the best toys to buy. Particularly, talking to your child or spending moments with them will let you peek into their personalities, hobbies, and biases, further molding your toy-selecting decisions.
Reason #5: They have too many toys
Societal norms suggest that having more toys means kids are loved more, but this belief doesn’t favor parents or kids. Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber, explained that having too many toys can even be a footstool for boredom.
Parents often provide their kids with a buffet of options to keep them occupied as they focus on their respective errands. But research in 2018 on the influence of the number of toys in toddlers’ play illustrates that leaner options encourage children to engage in more creative and exploratory play, contrary to overstuffing the room with toys.
Martyn added that children couldn’t make choices between 10 things, so having more toys is just plain overwhelming and not better for kids.
4 Tips to Combat A Child’s Toy Boredom
Solution #1: Buy Open-ended Toys
Countless toys in the market come with preconditioned ways to play and a fixed set of outcomes, and as discussed above, these toys can quickly bore kids out of their minds. On the other hand, buying open-ended toys will limit instruction-based play and give your child more liberty in their playtime. As a result, kids will find ways to engage themselves to keep them interested for longer.
Construction sets like Legos or a portable kid’s microscope like the STEMscope can be very effective open-ended toys as children use these tools as mere stepping stones to create their fun.
Solution #2: Introduce Novel Ways to Play
The value of a toy is measured by how much it can mentally and emotionally stimulate a child’s cognition. So once they begin habituating to their toys, you’ll have to step in and add a small change to their playtime to keep them interested.
For example, if you get them a portable kids microscope, they can get bored by repeatedly exploring the same backyard. A workaround may be to bring them to different environments like the park as a change of pace where they can discover new things they haven’t encountered previously.
Solution #3: Practice Toy Rotation
As mentioned above, a vast array of toys is overwhelming for children. They might have more options, but it discourages them from tapping into their creativity and imagination. One familiar solution to this predicament is toy rotation.
Toy rotation works by keeping some toys out and the rest stored, replacing the toys that are out every once in a while. By doing so, you increase your child’s focus on the toys available at their disposal, which helps them appreciate their toys more and pushes them to find creative ways to play.
Solution #4: Swap their toys out
As a last resort, if kids have used up all their creative juices during playtime, ask them if they have toys they no longer enjoy playing with. If you have any close friends or families with children of similar ages, you may propose toy swapping from time to time so both children can play with new toys without the need to buy new toys or throw toys away. Additionally, your child can still play with their swapped-out toys when you visit their homes.
Many workarounds keep children bored out of their minds with their toys. But no matter how much rotation or toy-swapping escapades you perform, one thing remains true: unless the toys are open-ended, the amount of fun that your child can squeeze out is still limited. So at the end of the day, buying open-ended toys should remain your number 1 priority.
Are you looking for Open-ended Toys?
Aside from a toy’s open-ended nature, getting your child toys that stimulate their cognitive development, like STEM toys, is one way to ensure that they learn on top of having fun. TheSTEMKids offers a wide array of open-ended science gadgets that your budding scientist will enjoy playing with and learning from.
Feel free to visit our entire science toy catalog to learn more!