50 cars, 30 dolls and almost a thousand building blocks – toys are piled up in many children’s rooms. But how much is good for my child?
BILD and social pedagogue Doris Feldmann from the Verband Bildung und Erziehung explain how you can get the toy flood under control and how you can avoid Christmas degenerating into a material battle.
Generally speaking, children in Germany tend to have too many toys rather than too few. A stimulating environment promotes the child’s development, but “too much of a good thing” quickly leads to a sensory overload and has exactly the opposite effect.
How many toys does my child need?
► Children love a manageable but varied range of toys. This means that one basic assortment or a single toy is sufficient for every toy group (dolls, toy cars, building blocks). If your child has a special fondness, e.g. for dolls, it can of course be three or four.
► Simple toys best promote imagination and creativity. Everyday and natural materials such as bowls, pots, leaves or chestnuts are particularly popular with younger children. Make sure you include such things in your game – this will promote your understanding of everyday life and nature.
► General toys can be used more flexibly than strongly themed toys, which quickly become boring. Example: In order to play pirate or knight with the Lego figures, your child does not need the pirate ship with figures with eye patch. He can’t turn them into knights the next day.
Important: Parents should definitely offer their children toys that are intended for children of the opposite sex. A boy should also have a doll’s pram and a girl should have tools or cars.
Which toy should not be missing in the toy box?
► A cuddly toy or a doll! They are companions in all situations, comforters, bearers of secrets and important for all kinds of role-playing games. ► Also important: painting utensils and building blocks. They help to develop creativity and promote motor skills.
Should my child have a say in shopping?
► Children’s and parents’ toy preferences are often far apart, but you should still listen to your child’s wishes. ► Important: If you still buy something else, you should explain this to older children: e.g. “You already have something like this and never play with it”.
How do I contain the flood of gifts from relatives and friends?
► Make common wish lists with the children in time before the celebration and discuss these with the circle of friends and relatives. In this way you can also avoid double gifts. With older children you can point out to the relatives that your child is saving for something (e.g. video game, going to a concert) – this increases the chance of cash gifts.
When should my child play with technology (iPad, iPhone) and for how long?
► Experts argue about the age at which children should use the iPad or iPhone. Ultimately, that’s up to you. But remember that, for example, painting is important for the development of handwriting or playing with building blocks illustrates the laws of nature and trains motor skills. An iPad can only do this to a limited extent.
Only children who move a lot in the real world can be released into the virtual world of iPads and iPhones without hesitation. If you’re unsure, discuss it with your child’s family or educators.
At the end
Where to put used toys?
Toys can be exchanged at various exchange exchanges on the Internet (e.g. www.bambali.net or dietauschbörse.de). Kitas or schools also have exchange shelves.
The online platforms www.rentatoy.info or www.elternmarkt.de offer toys for rent. If the car or building blocks become uninteresting, they can be returned – or bought if you like them.
If the former favourite toy is no longer noticed, an interim storage facility in the basement can help. This postpones a final separation.
Children’s flea markets are organised by some daycare centres. If you don’t have them, you can also organise your own sale with the other parents. Also good: Ebay or classifieds, as well as second-hand toy shops.