On Toys: How Much Is Too Much?

September 9, 2016

I love toys. I love love love toys. Having said that, I notice that toys are getting bad press nowadays.  Toys are labelled as excessive and pointless and bad for kids, for fear that today’s kids might grow up as spoiled, entitled, unimaginative individuals.

Here’s my take…

On Buying Toys For Children:

I have no problem buying toys for Zuri. I don’t give a limit as to how many or how often we can buy toys, for as long as we stick to our monthly budget.   Why? Because, toys don’t necessarily make a spoiled child.

Spoiled is not how much or how little a child owns. Spoiled is, rather, the child’s attitude towards others, towards her things and towards rules when she does not get what she wants and even when she does get what she wants.

In our home, the following rules apply:

1.  Zuri’s toys are Zuri’s RESPONSIBILITY.

It is Zuri’s job to pack away all toys, to take care of her toys, to make sure her toys are complete and to know where her toys are.

2. Zuri should value her toys.

Zuri knows the value of her toys, that the money we spent on her toys came from hard work. In all her 5 years of life, Zuri has never purposely broken or thrown away a toy. Zuri values and appreciates her toys enough to not let them go to waste by destroying or losing them.

3. Zuri should not get too attached to her toys.

Although Zuri is a responsible toy owner and certainly values her toys, she is NOT overly attached to any of them, not even her favorites.

An accidentally broken or lost toy has never ruined Zuri’s day. An accidentally beheaded Barbie doll, a missing puzzle piece, a broken crayon… these are all just speed bumps, not roadblocks, certainly not reason enough for a tantrum. I believe this is a very desirable attitude towards toys that even grown ups can learn from – a good show of maturity and resilience. After all, a grown woman’s broken high heels or stained favorite dress or missing Mac lipstick is no reason for all hell to break loose. A lost job, a lost love or a lost friend is no reason to not spring back up again.

Another proof of Zuri’s unattachment to her toys is her willingness to give away her old toys. Zuri sorts her toys herself and decides which ones to give away. We do this once or twice a year.

4. Zuri (and Mommy) should stick to the budget.

Scenario 1: When Zuri wants a ridiculously priced toy from the toy store (like a Barbie dollhouse worth PHP20,000+), I talk to her truthfully. I don’t make false promises, I just tell her “No Babe, we’re not buying this toy, it’s too expensive.” She understands and moves on. Zuri never throws a tantrum when she can’t have what she wants from the toy store. Instead, she looks for an alternative, something not too expensive.

Scenario 2: When Zuri wants to buy a toy but we’ve already used up our budget for the month, I tell her honestly, “I’m sorry Babe but we don’t have money for a toy right now. We have to save first before we can buy again. We’ll buy the toy next time.” Zuri believes and trusts in the words “next time” because she knows I never make false promises just to appease her. I always talk to her honestly. She understands and graciously moves on. Emphasis on ‘graciously’ – another manifestation of Zuri’s maturity.

Scenario 3: When we have money for a toy, we usually roam around the toy store first before deciding what toy to buy. Naturally, by the time we’ve covered the whole store, Zuri would have taken a liking to not just one but a number of toys. Here, I let Zuri figure out which toy/s to pick given her budget. Maybe she can get that one expensive toy she really likes, or maybe she can buy two less expensive ones. She learns decision making and strategy.

Scenario 4: Although I usually pay for Zuri’s toys, she actually has her own coin bank at home which she uses to save up for certain toys that she likes. For example, she has been eyeing this Barbie walkie talkie which I can easily buy for her, but I’m letting her save up for it instead. This teaches her patience and delayed gratification. 🙂

Right now, Zuri has two floor-to-ceiling shelves full of toys. Is my daughter a spoiled, entitled little brat? My answer is a resounding NO!!! Zuri is a responsible and appreciative little girl who exhibits remarkable maturity for her age. 🙂

So, do toys spoil a child? NOT NECESSARILY.

On Sharing Toys With Other Children:

About sharing:

First, let me say that I consider my 5-year-old daughter Zuri to be the rightful owner of her toys because she is responsible for her toys. Therefore, I do not give away or throw or do anything to her toys without her knowledge.

Second, I’m not one to require my child to share her things with everyone. This is because I recognize that children, just like adults, have a right to their own things.  Much as an adult has the right to choose who to invite to his home or who to trust with his car, a child also should have the right to choose who to invite to play with her toys. Now, I know this has the potential to lead to sticky situations. So, what I do is this: When Zuri wants to bring a toy somewhere where other kids are going to be present, I tell her to bring only those toys that she is willing to share.

Third, even without any pressure from me, Zuri is growing up to be a generous little girl, always willing to share her toys with other children (for as long as these other children know how to take turns). She is naturally fair and giving. Of course I tell her that sharing is good,  but I don’t force her into it. She knows that if ever she wants to keep her toys to herself for awhile, that would be okay with me. Zuri shares her toys not because she’s obliged to but because she wants to. And that makes me very proud. 🙂

On asking permission and taking turns:

In line with upholding Zuri’s right to her own things is teaching her to respect other children’s rights to their things as well. It is important to teach children how to respect another person’s property. It is never okay for children to just grab someone else’s toys or things without permission. Just like it is not okay for an adult to just drive someone else’s car without prior approval. 

Now, when a child is playing with a toy, it is not okay for another child to just grab the toy and get it with force. It is very important to teach children to take turns. This teaches them the value of consideration for others.

Just as it is not okay for an adult to skip right to the head of a queue instead of waiting for his turn, it is also not okay to let kids act in such an inconsiderate manner. Zuri respects the idea of taking turns and adheres to it, therefore she also does not appreciate it when another kid tries to cut in while it is still her turn to play – the same way an adult would feel if someone cuts the line in front of him. Zuri is fair to both herself and to others. She knows when to give in and when to stand up for herself.

On Creativity:

Another argument against toys nowadays is that they make everything easy for today’s kids. Unlike the olden days when our grandfathers were left to their own devices and had to make their own toys using their own imagination and craftsmanship, today’s kids have everything ready-made for them.

Well, I can not dispute the fact that during my grandmother’s time, she did not have a Barbie to play with or that my grandfather did not have Hot Wheels. However, can we really say with certainty and absolute objectivity that today’s generation of kids is less creative than the previous generations? Because, I also know for a fact that I have a very creative, ready-made-toy-loving child. And Zuri’s teachers can attest to this. So who’s to say?

Actually, there’s a lot of potential for creativity even with today’s ready-made toys. Pretend play is good exercise for the imagination. Zuri has toy sets that let her make her own accessories, keychains, ref magnets and even her own stuffed toys. And, seriously, there is an infinite number of things that a child can build with Lego bricks or mold with Play Doh.

So, Do I Recommend Toys For Kids? 

Oh Yes! Yes, Yes and Yes!!!

How much is too much?

As to how much toys is okay or how much is too much, that depends on your child, on you and your situation. Just, don’t automatically scratch off toys as a bad thing. Give it a shot. See how your child reacts. Set some ground rules. And make sure your child is growing up into a responsible, appreciative, generous, fair, creative kid and not one of the spoiled, entitled, unimaginative lot that others fear today’s kids might become.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

XOXO, Mommy Kay

You might also want to read:

All About Barbie Toys: Dolls And Accessories

All About Barbie Toys: Furniture Sets

Mega Bloks Barbie Chelsea Pool Party

Recommended Toy: Lalaloopsy

Should Kids Do Household Chores?

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