It can be very frustrating as a parent when just a few days after Christmas, your kid says “I’m bored!” What about all those fun toys you spent your hard-earned money on? How is it possible for the newness of the Christmas toys to wear off so fast? There is actually some science behind this phenomenon. But the parenting tips to handle this situation aren’t necessarily what we’re all used to hearing. Regardless, this is really interesting information!
The science behind it says that we give our children too many toys, and that they will actually be happier with less. In a recent university study in Toledo, researchers gave toddlers either 4 or 16 toys to play with for a half hour block of playtime. What do you think happened?
Surprisingly, the toddlers who were given 16 toys played with each toy much less, switching quickly between toys in a state of distraction. The toddlers who had 4 toys took much longer with each toy and used more imaginative play as they did so. One could argue that the children who had too many toys grew overstimulated and became bored much more quickly than the children who had a better quality play time with less toys vying for their attention!
German researchers conducted a very interesting experiment. They took all toys away from a nursery for three months, because they wanted to prove that children can play more creatively when they aren’t overwhelmed by toys. The children’s playtime was left unstructured. Once they adjusted to the lack of toys, their play actually became very creative and much more social. The children learned to better socialize with other children and engage in pretend play when no toys were around. Imagine that!
So if you’re interested in giving your children less toys and more experiences, or you’ve already been doing that, here are some ways to get started and stay the course:
- Think about Christmas and what you really want it to mean for your family. Begin to put more emphasis on traditions and less on gifts and expectations. Children will follow your example.
- Decide on a small number of toys you feel your child will really appreciate, and stick with it. Make them more about your child’s interests than whether or not it’s the latest and greatest toy available.
- Teach kids that Christmas is more about giving. Involve them in giving to others and making a difference for someone who has less than they do.
It’s never too late to decide to make Christmas more about time and experiences than toys. Do you have other parenting tips for Christmas gift-giving? Please share with us in the comments!