Be Careful with those Toys! How not to Spoil your Child with Gifts

It's quite common nowadays for a child to receive dozens of new toys each Christmas: in a few years, veritable toy mountains accummulate in their rooms. However, scientists that more toys does not mean happier kids.

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It’s quite common nowadays for a child to receive dozens of new toys each Christmas: in a few years, veritable toy mountains accummulate in their rooms. However, scientists that more toys does not mean happier kids.

Dangers of too many toys

You can probably remember most of your toys if you grew up in the 70’s or 80’s. Modern kids, however, often have hundreds of toys, plus tablets, phones, videogames… It may seem like a proof of our higher quality of life, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Apart from enormous expenditure this generates and millions of tons of discarded plastic toys in our landfills, there are a few reasons to limit the number of toys you buy for your children:

  1. Consumerism and addiction. Studies show that kids who get too many toys are more likely to accummulate credit card debt later in life, spend their money on trifles, have problems in their marriage, and even addictions. Apparently, by giving excessive amounts of gifts, we promote the idea that happiness depends on the number of possessions (study details here).
  2. False feeling of entitlement. The more toys you give to kids, the more they want – and soon they develop the idea that they are entitled to them, that you owe them something, that you must buy those toys. Kids turn into bullies, they blackmail and manipulate their parents and ulitmately take control.
  3. Concentration problems. Research demonstrates that kids who have too many toys cannot focus on one of them – they just go through them aimlessly. This develops into an inability to concentrate on one activity in general and leads to problems in school.
  4. Breakdown of relationships. Often parents buy material gifts to cover up their own guilt for not spending enough time with their kids. Children understand that, feel hurt and neglected, which further damages the relationship in the family.

Choose better gifts

Of course, all this doesn’t mean you should not give gifts – you just need to choose them wisely. Here are a few ideas:

  • Educational toys: instead of a Barbie, give your child a young chemist set, or a painting set, or a microscope, or a collection of geology samples with a booklet, a plant they can grow themselves (more on the topic here)… And don’t forget about books!
  • Experiences: studies show that experiences bring more pleasure and stay longer in the memory than material possessions (more info here). Why not go to a theater together, or do a hike, or visit a museum of science?
  • Self-made gifts: be it a necklace, or a scarf, or a simple toy you’ve made yourself, your kid will definitely appreciate your effort. Your children will be even more delighted if you make gifts together with them! Actually, statistics show that giving gifts to others brings more pleasure than receiving them, so why not set to work with your child and make gifts for their friends or grandparents?

Use the opportunity

The holiday season is not necessarily the time to spend hundreds on gifts that your kid doesn’t really need. It’s better to use it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your children. Spend time together, do things as a family. If you have family members who tend to give your child too many gifts, talk to them and convince them not to do it (be diplomatic, though). Remember: your kids value your attention much more than the toys. it’s ok to buy them something, of course, but the ultimate gift you can give them is the gift of your time.

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