What child doesn’t care about their toys? Mine, apparently. E is my very strong-willed child and we are constantly reading, praying and trying new methods of discipline to find what works. Most recently, we’ve found that taking away things and having her earn them back (with good behavior) is proving effective. That is, unless we threaten to take away her toys. When we said we were going to take them away, she didn’t even flinch. And this girl has a lot of toys.
She doesn’t care about the bright-colored, music-playing, flashing-lighted, battery-powered collection of plastic that has overrun a solid half of our home.
Part of the downside to bunching our kids is that we’ve ended up with every toy made from here to China for ages birth-preschooler under our roof. We have rattles and shakey-vibrating-pull-string-elephants to stamps and magnetic dress-up dolls with every stage in between. Stuffed animals! Plastic animals! Wooden animals! And all the mismatched plastic pieces that have made their way into our home from birthday party goodie bags and the tantrum-canceling check-out line purchase at Target (don’t judge; you’ve caved too).
And I hate cheap, plastic, and chintzy things. Toys, specifically.
So E could care less about her toys tossed across the floor and I’m irritated they have even made their way inside. Why am I spending so much time each day bent over, feeling my heart beat in my ears while picking up plastic, moo-ing books? All these sound-making take-and-toss toys that she doesn’t even really like?
It’s time for a toy overhaul.
I want the girls to have simple, sturdy toys with minimal pizzazz. I want toys that provide a vehicle for play – not dictates it. I want toys for them to play with, not be entertained by.
The longer I parent, the more I realize how distracting the colors, sounds and flashing lights of popular toys can be. When E was a baby, I didn’t think much about a toy book (side note: when did someone decide that a book wasn’t exciting enough and that it needed music, lights and animal sounds to be fun?) that sang the colors while pulsing the corresponding lights. Did I actually think this bombardment would help her learn? I suppose.
I’m not insinuating that these types of toys are necessarily harmful but when they are being overwhelmed with noise and lights and movement from every side, it’s no wonder they flutter from toy to toy without focusing their attention on one item and really investigating and using their imagination. It is sensory overload.
And researchers agree.
As quoted in this article…
“Roberta Golinkoff, head of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware says, ‘Electronic educational toys boast brain development and that they are going to give your child a head start. But developmental psychologists know that it doesn’t really work this way. The toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind in this global marketplace…kids are not like empty vessels to be filled. If they
play with toys that allow them to be explorers, they are more likely to learn important lessons about how to master their world.’
E has never been great at independent play. I don’t expect different toys to change her personality but I do hope she can learn to be confidant in her imagination and find joy in playing without Momma providing the momentum.
It has taken us three years to accumulate our current stash of toys so I don’t expect for this to be an overnight transition. Plus, as with anything of good quality, it can be expensive. So I’m doing my research and creating a wishlist. Birthdays and present-giving holidays are around every corner so I doubt the girls will be wanting for anything soon.
And not everything needs to go. The girls have some basic toys that they actually DO play with. We have some great wooden building blocks that both B and E l-o-v-e. I bought them from another young family in the neighborhood for amazingly cheap and we play with them every day. We build robots and castles and ramps and more robots. And B thinks they taste pretty good, too
The girls have a pretty impressive collection of paints, markers and stamps. You all know my love for craft time. But the girls do enjoy it. B is still a bit young to fully grasp artistic expression but she does love the taste of some finger paint (purple is her favorite).
B’s current obsession is our alphabet blocks. They came in a canvas bag and taking them out, putting them in and taking them out again can keep her busy for 15 minutes which is forever in 14-month-old-land.
So, here’s my preliminary wish list of classic, minimal toys:
– I really, really want to splurge and get a Waldorf wooden balance board. E may be slightly on the older side and B a bit on the younger but I think they both would find loads of fun with it. Mama Natural has a great video on it that had me sold.
– Dress up clothes. Not just princess dresses but capes, cowboy hats and doctor’s scrubs.
– A classic bead maze. Simple, right?
– How fun are these face paints? This could also be my worst nightmare come true but let’s think positive, people!
Up next: Wading through the plastic, battery-powered wasteland.
What are your favorite, simple toys?