Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids

The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.” —Ray L. Wilbur

Toys are not merely playthings. Toys form the building blocks for our child’s future. They teach our children about the world and about themselves. They send messages and communicate values. And thus, wise parents think about what foundation is being laid by the toys that are given to their kids.

Wise parents also think about the number of toys that children are given. While most toy rooms and bedrooms today are filled to the ceiling with toys, intentional parents learn to limit the number of toys that kids have to play with.

They understand that fewer toys will actually benefit their children in the long-term:

1. Kids learn to be more creative. Too many toys prevent kids from fully developing their gift of imagination. Two German public health workers (Strick and Schubert) conducted an experiment in which they convinced a kindergarten classroom to remove all of their toys for three months. Although boredom set in during the initial stages of the experiment, the children soon began to use their basic surroundings to invent games and use imagination in their playing.

2. Kids develop longer attention spans. When too many toys are introduced into a child’s life, their attention span will begin to suffer. A child will rarely learn to fully appreciate the toy in front of them when there are countless options still remaining on the shelf behind them.

3. Kids establish better social skills. Children with fewer toys learn how to develop interpersonal relationships with other kids and adults. They learn the give and take of a good conversation. And studies have attributed childhood friendships to a greater chance of success academically and in social situations during adulthood.

4. Kids learn to take greater care of things. When kids have too many toys, they will naturally take less care of them. They will not learn to value them if there is always a replacement ready at hand. If you have a child who is constantly damaging their toys, just take a bunch away. He will quickly learn.

5. Kids develop a greater love for reading, writing, and art. Fewer toys allows your children to love books, music, coloring, and painting. And a love for art will help them better appreciate beauty, emotion, and communication in their world.

6. Kids become more resourceful. In education, students aren’t just given the answer to a problem; they are given the tools to find the answer. In entertainment and play, the same principle can be applied. Fewer toys causes children to become resourceful by solving problems with only the materials at hand. And resourcefulness is a gift with unlimited potential.

7. Kids argue with each other less. This may seem counter-intuitive. Many parents believe that more toys will result in less fighting because there are more options available. However, the opposite is true far too often. Siblings argue about toys. And every time we introduce a new toy into the relationship, we give them another reason to establish their “territory” among the others. On the other hand, siblings with fewer toys are forced to share, collaborate, and work together.

8. Kids learn perseverance. Children who have too many toys give up too quickly. If they have a toy that they can’t figure out, it will quickly be discarded for the sake of a different, easier one. Kids with fewer toys learn perseverance, patience, and determination.

9. Kids become less selfish. Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want. This attitude will quickly lead to an unhealthy (and unbecoming) lifestyle.

10. Kids experience more of nature. Children who do not have a basement full of toys are more apt to play outside and develop a deep appreciation for nature. They are also more likely to be involved in physical exercise which results in healthier and happier bodies.

11. Kids learn to find satisfaction outside of the toy store. True joy and contentment will never be found in the aisles of a toy store. Kids who have been raised to think the answer to their desires can be bought with money have believed the same lie as their parents. Instead, children need encouragement to live counter-cultural lives finding joy in things that truly last.

12. Kids live in a cleaner, tidier home. If you have children, you know that toy clutter can quickly take over an entire home. Fewer toys results in a less-cluttered, cleaner, healthier home.

I’m not anti-toy. I’m just pro-child. So do your child a favor today and limit their number of toys. (Just don’t tell them you got the idea from me.)

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I kind of agree with you here, but kids do need toys to develop as well. It helps with dexterity, thinking, coordination etc… I also think TV can be beneficial in the right doses and using the right programs. My kids love watching anime and have picked up Japanese and French words that they probably wouldn’t have without it. Great article though, thanks.

    • says

      I think this is a huge myth perpetuated by the toy industry. Kids don’t need toys to develop things like dexterity, thinking & coordination. In fact, those are all things that kids will develop easily in the absence of toys. A book I’m reading “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards” goes into detail on this. Might be a good read. :)

      • Dr. Jameson Carr says

        In my research toys most definitely do help children develop motor skills, dexterity, language development, emotional development, social skills, and overall creativity. Children create toys when there is a lack and would absolutely be behind without them. They are the stepping stones to education and a key to Montessori method of learning. I am in agreement with the author / blogger on the need to limit toys but please do not take away toys. The authors of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards” do not suggest that children do not need toys, in fact I would say the message is the exact opposite. The book suggests that in addition to the flashy must have toys, our children should also use creative toys like building, dress up, tools, etc.

        • Andrea says

          Lisa said children do not “Need” toys. This is true. Children can develope skills by just simply going outside and using nature. Plastic man made toys that are store bought are not necessary for a childs development. Nature is the ultimate toy, and playground.

          • anoyamouse says

            You guys are all obsessed with a certain type of toy. Yes GI Joes and My Little Ponies may not be great for dexterity but I got 101 other toys in this house that are.

            As humans we lump everything together especially in our desire to make a point.

            Some are good, some are great and some are of little value. The point is that lower the quantity in their lives will increase some creativity and let’s face it…make them less spoiled and feeling entitled to have “things”.

        • Shatz says

          I agree with Lisa and Andrea. Children do not ‘need’ toys. About ‘developmental delay’ I’d like to say, this is such a pointless topic. Ofcourse few children would be quick and few would lag behind. What’s the issue here. This is not a rat race. Not all apples grow at same speed on a tree. But eventually apples would be ready and they will be apple. Nature is fully capable of developing our children with or without toys.

        • Sasha says

          Children absolutely do not need “toys”. Someone above said children will create toys in the absence of toys. That’s the whole point. Children who do not own store bought toys will find creative alternatives or create their own toys and they learn much more valuable life lessons from this than they could ever learn from purchased and defined toys. My son borrowed a small box from my kitchen today and used it as a car, a chair, an animal cage for tiny imaginary bunny rabbits, a castle, and a bed for his teddy bear. By limiting his number of toys I increase his chances of imagination. I truly wish we had absolutely NO “toys” in the traditional sense of the word. We are working on getting rid of the few he has as he outgrows them and they are being replaced by bits and bobs that he can use his imagination to turn into whatever object his game requires for the day. So when we say “no toys” or “limited toys” we don’t mean “no play things” we mean “no (store bought, defined) toys”. I don’t think any sane person would intentionally imply that children should not be allowed to play.

      • Hulio says

        Pretty much everything the blogger said is true. The thing to note is that at no point was learning through play mentioned. Children learn socially, physically, cognitively, etc. through play. If they don’t have “toys” they will make their own toys. All they need is sufficient time to become bored and find things to do on their own. If we are constantly stimulating them they will not ever need to stimulate themselves. If you watch preschooler or toddler outside in the bush, a field, the beach or a back yard they will find twigs, sticks, dirt, bark, rocks, pebbles, leaves, sand, shells, seaweed, grass etc. to explore, build with, animate, play act with. They do not need “toys” to learn and develop, they need time and interaction. Toys are a helpful tool and I agree that careful choice and limitation of toys is of huge benefit.

    • Anita Carlson says

      Kieron, I have to disagree. Purchased playthings aren’t necessary to develop dexterity, thinking, and coordination. As Peter Gray notes in his book Last Child in the Woods, it these skills have much more to do with free play, access to nature, and mixed age friendship.

      Want a real life example? Read about this little boy whose mother is raising him with NO commercial toys of any kind. http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/02/20/the-boy-with-no-toys/

      • JB says

        You’ve mixed up Peter Gray and Richard Louv. Both writers promote play in their work but Richard Louv takes more of a focus on getting kids in touch with nature. Peter Gray (who wrote Free to Learn) takes more of an anthropological perspective in his examination of how children throughout history have learned though play (often in nature). What he criticises is the over-emphasis on controlling and supervising our children which ultimately deprives them of the ability to take initiative in their own play, learning and discovery.

    • vizeet says

      There is difference between language learning and imagination. Storytelling is much better than showing TV cartoons. When you tell story a child will not be just listening, he may be asking questions and you may need to explain it. In his mind he will be creating abstract sketches to understand what you are telling. Cartoons kill that.
      In last 3 Mya human brain became 3 times and pre-frontal cortex became 6 times. Pre-frontal cortex is for imagination. It is the key differentiator between humans and apes.
      Better to give your child non toys like clay, blocks, scissors, paper, color. These are much better in building imagination.

    • matilda says

      regarding tv – there has been a study conducted in france showing that it is not the content of what children watch but the fact that they are sitting in front of the tv which isn’t beneficial.
      they tested the neurological activity while watching a educational program and while reading, painiting, and crafting – all failry passive activities, and the neurological activity when sitting infront of the screen was minimal. they also tested for fat burning, and although reading dose not require any movement, same as watching television, a child’s body burns more fat while reading, because the body does not shut down.
      i know parenting requires screen time, but i just thought i would share this because when i read it it blew my mind and made me rethink the entire screen time with children.

  2. says

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been on top of toy clutter and accumulation since day 1. My question for you: Do you have a list of toys organized by age group that are educational, multifunctional etc?

  3. Janelle Marshall says

    I agree with you here. Thanks for sharing even more benefits of less toys than I could think of. I get really frustrated with my sister and her kids who have so many toys that they don’t care about them. Their rooms are constantly a pigstye, they break and lose their toys, and dont show appreciation for new ones. I’ve bought them Christmas presents that they’ve promptly lost and never used. I now limit their gifts to Christmas and keep them under $10, extremely usable or educational. It’s disheartening but I’m still hopeful they’ll still grow up into appreciative and resourceful young adults.
    I really liked what you said about having less toys, and therefore persevering with play and becoming resourceful by using whats around you.

    • Jessica says

      I’m a new mother, my daughter is 4 months old. I’d really like to start out on this minimalist toy route, but my sister’s kids get EVERYthing they want. At Christmas, the entire room is filled with gifts for them from my parents. This has always been a shared family event. How can I still participate in the family gathering, yet have my daughter seeing her cousins buried in gifts, yet, she isn’t? Will that be possible?

      • Kristin says

        Do you have a sense of how your sister feels about it? I wouldn’t automatically assume that she and her partner feel one way or the other just because the grandparents feel the need to go overboard. You could start by asking others limit your daughter’s gifts at her birthday and be careful to explain why without implying that the way they’ve been doing it is wrong in anyway. It may open the conversation. It’s not easy, but just by talking about it (or in our case, email, so everyone knows they are getting the same message and they actually hear what we are saying) can help to lessen the load.

      • Ness says

        We had this problem too. We now have a rule at Christmas – absolutely NO gifts for adults. Bring food to contribute to the feast. For kids – books only. NO toys. It is fantastic!

      • Andrea Smith says

        I ask for experiences if possible. Tickets to a ballet, season passes to the zoo, sleeping bags for camping, and then quality toys like wood blocks, train sets, books, games, puzzles, dress up clothes, dolls, etc. Often things go out the back door if it doesn’t fit our goals for our family. Then I keep toys in rotation limited. It gets overwhelming for EVERYONE to have too many toys.

      • mary says

        To Jennifer- My suggestion to you is this- never buy your daughter any toys, ever. You will save a fortune, and then the “large number” of toys that she gets from your parents at Christmas will be the only toys that she has. Every November, pack up all of your daughter’s toys, and donate them to charity. The her room is clean and empty and ready for the new toys, (from the grandparents). You could just get her clothes, a coat, new boots, etc for Xmas. If you really don’t want her to get several gifts from the grandparents, then you should not attend the family party- ever! You cannot force your minimalist lifestyle on others. At your daughter’s birthday, try to get your parents to pay for some of the things that your daughter will need- such as soccer cleats, piano lessons, etc. Good luck!

        • Crystal says

          I totally hear you on this Jessica. My sister’s kids get everything (from everyone! this year, they’re getting a bounce house!) And it sometimes makes me feel like we’re somehow depriving our children because we don’t – my husband is especially anti tons of toys.

          I’m with what Mary says above – This is the approach we’re taking with our children. My mom completely ignored the request for only two toys the past two years and went WAY over board (uh, what 8 month old needs a rocking horse??) So this year we told her anything more than two toys per child, and they would be donated. We allowed gifts for our oldest’s first birthday, but requested no gifts for her second, just the company of her friends to celebrate (allowing for grandparents/aunts to give a gift). For Christmas this year, we asked one set of grandparents for the gift of her first gymnastics session.

          Another option at birthday parties is to suggest people bring a toy or diapers to donate to a local children’s hospital/shelter.

      • Patti says

        How about give your child experiences? Once she is old enough, give her trips to the zoo, a special art class, gymnastics classes, etc. How about an open ended type toy? Give her some decent paintbrushes and paint (not kiddie junk) and a huge pad of paper. How about nice colored pencils? Modeling clay or Play dough? A good soccer ball or outside play equipment? and there are always NICE books – big picture books that can be read over and over again.

  4. says

    What is important to remember also is the importance of the type of toys children have access to. So many toys available fail to promote creativity, they do all the thinking for the child.

    • Laura says

      I agree wholeheartedly that toys today don’t just sit there and wait for the child to use his/her imagination to make it work. They jump, sing, dance, blink lights, play music, talk, laugh, pee/poo. Once the child has seen all the bells and whistles the toy just gets dragged out played with for two minutes and stepped on the rest of the day. Give a child some wooden blocks and some plastic animals or a few matchbox cars and they will build houses, roads, mountains and interact with the toys for a lot longer. Provide them with books as well and they will re-create things they have seen pictures of in their books. Common household trash can be treasure for a child, given them yogurt cups, grated cheese containers, cereal boxes, baby food jars, just about anything along those lines and they will get creative and play for a lot longer. When I was a kid we had a chest full of dress up clothes and we played for hours with them and baby dolls. We played “house” and everyone contributed to the story line. We had dads, moms, babies, the neighbor, the doctor everyone wanted to create their own “character”, some were nice, some were mean, some were funny. We had a blast; we played this in the house, in the car, at Gramma’s house where ever we went. We didn’t have to drag a bunch of plastic junk toys with us.

  5. Jennifer Alexander says

    I agree with this completely, but I have to admit I am guilty of buying my son quite a bit. I do hold back, but he does have too many toys. I try to rotate them and keep only 2 electronic toys out at one time (he is 18 months).

    I have thought about just doing a clean sweep and removing 80% or so of his toys, but I struggle with this because it seems like he really likes all of his toys and he plays with all of them. This could be because they are all out (which is the likely scenario). But I just don’t know where to begin when it comes to putting them away. I feel like he would miss them. How do I know which ones to remove if he “likes” them all?

    • Jennifer Alexander says

      Does anyone have any suggestions to offer for me? I guess I just have to be the parent and pare down the amount of toys. Its more of an internal stuggle with myself I think. I mean he is 18 months, I really doubt he will notice. Thanks in advance!

      • lesley says

        Ah, you wont be mean if you put them all away, leave a wooden spoon, a cardboard box, a toilet roll, kids will play with anything. How sad this is about little kiddies, lets face it, they just want to meddle with anything and anything from a laptop to a calculator, its kids being inquisitive, and lets not forget, adults play with the toys with kids too! jeees, why don’t they focus on enjoying this precious time with their children instead of overanalysing how many toys? too many toys? My kids played and talked together whether it was playing store bought toys or digging up worms!

      • says

        Here’s what has worked for us for at least the past three years (my boys are now 5 and 6): LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, and a wooden train set are always available on the toy shelf. Toys from Christmas and birthdays are always rotated in and out, but I swear by my Holy Trinity of Toys.

      • Kristin says

        Definitely do it now because he won’t remember much! Don’t do it all at once, but you can start to rotate toys and after they’ve been away for awhile, he will start to forget about them and then you can pass them on.

    • Jane says

      We played this “stealing game” a couple of Christmas ago. The idea of the game is, if you like the present that was opened prior to your turn to pick a gift, you get to steal this gift from another person instead of randomly selecting an unopened gift from the pile.

      My little cousin got a fancy remote control car toy. He was about…5 (or maybe younger, he wasn’t in school yet). When it was the turn for my older cousin (like he was late 20’s at that time), he had a chance to get from the unopened pile or steal others’ gift. Of all the gift he could have stolen, he stole from the little kid.

      Yes, it was harsh. Yes, my little cousin cried. Before the end of the night, my little cousin had completely gotten over it and found another toy to play with.

      I come from a big family. I have tons of little cousins and when toys are taken away from them, they cry and then find something else to play with or do.

      I could imagine it would be same effect for your 18 mons child.

    • Lisa Greaves says

      You could keep what you have and stop buying new stuff. Or store a little in a closet, instead of a huge clean sweep.

      The one thing that really helps me keep my splurging/spoiling in check is to ask myself, “Would this money be better spent on her college fund?” That really helps me from spending so much on temporary stuff.

      As for electronic toys, I have never liked them. I hate the noise. So we have very few, only what she has received as gifts. They really don’t need them and don’t miss them if they just don’t get them. I would bring them out on occasions when I needed her distracted. That would probably be my first move, to put the noise-makers in a closet and only bring them out from time to time.

    • Bek says

      Have you considered a toy library? I have been a member for 7 years. My kids have a few toys…musical instruments (some homemade), train set from my sister, dress ups. Toy lib has saved me a fortune…and i discovered they prefer to play on their bikes!

  6. Chris Abonado says

    Our parents did not provide us with fancy plastic toys back in the 70’s. We create our own toys out of old materials, tin cans, woods, and rubber bands. They did not buy us game consoles,but they provided us with musical instruments and drawing/painting materials. I am a self taught musician and a professional engineer, and I totally agree with the author. This is exactly the same experience I am giving to my three kids since my first son 8 years ago.

    • Kate says

      I don’t know which 70’s you grew up in, but the 70s I grew up in was awash in plastic toys. Legos, Branded Action Figures, and barbie were all well represented in my youth. This was also the beginning of video games (remember the arcades?) and pinball machines. I completely agree with the author that too many toys are not good for little kids, but the children of the 70’s and 80s was the first generation directly marketed to and boy were we targeted.

  7. Fiona Cee says

    i never had many toys as a child and spent endless hours outdoors with friends in our little aboveground pool and made and acted out dramas. if they werent available i would do that myself. i explored far and wide on a 2 wheeler once i learnt to ride. in the colder months, it would be skippy or elastics or ball games, totem tennis, roller skating.
    despite a few problems [having a father who was a wife basher] i still grew up fairly unaffected. i was a bookworm as books were a BIG part of my earlier years and still are now.
    i will never get rid of my books/toys as i still have them and will
    pass them onto a niece who will appreciate them i think. i don’t have any children to pass them on to. but now days, TOO many toys are available and due to technology, children are very savvy very early. i mourn for them, the type of childhood i had.

    • Kim says

      I would have to agree that less toys are better for children. My 1 1/2 year old grandson spent almost a half hour playing with our hose on the patio the other day. It took him awhile to learn how to squeeze the handle so the spray of water would come out. After that he learned to move the hose around and hold the sprayer in the hand at the same time. Finally he learned that plants need water to grow. He also learned he could spray Grammy’s bare feet and make her jump which made him smile and laugh. We had a great time and no toys were required.

  8. Bert Cabello says

    I didn’t have much toys when I was a kid and became innovative and practical in life. I made toys for my personal use when I was in the grade school, not perfect but good enough for me because my parents can’t afford at all. I became handyman at home and made a lot of home improvements and save a lot of money by “do-it-yourself” (DIY) application in comparison to a person who hire services every time a repair is needed which is probably okay if you can afford it. I learned in a hard way and directed me to become financially independent with my wife, with luck probably, and determination to improve our quality of life.

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  11. Heather Nichols says

    This article has changed our life. We had a huge closet filled with 4 kids useless toys. We are now down to 10 each (a lot, I know) plus a box of art supplies. What a change & how much fun we are having.

    • Linda Disterhoeft says

      Good idea and makes a lot of sense! It is healthy for children to have the opportunity to challenge themselves through play without the need of so many toys and other “stuff” e.g. video games, etc. Children are amazing at coming up with their own unique ideas and putting them to good use. The result is a quality play that is rich with creativity. Your children will be better for it! This is how a lot of us grew up and unfortunately I feel it is missing in today’s society. Less is more!

  12. says

    Really great article! Love all the points you made and I learned when my sons were younger that the novelty of most toys quickly vanishes and they’re not worth the money spent. Much better to let them use their imaginations and creativity. Legos, however, were always a favorite!

  13. christina says

    We have done a big declutter of toys in the last 5 or so months, bit by bit, some of the toys the kids have not even noticed missing, its crazy the amount of stuff they get from family, most of the time it ‘disappears’ after a while and we give it to a second hand store or sell it on. we have no toys in the bedrooms, and only a couple of boxes in the lounge, trains, duplo blocks, books, they have no electronic toys. passive toys create active play and active toys create passive play. I like toys that have endless imagination, I know some people have mentioned littlep onies etc, but my kids love them and play endless hours of role playing with these little ponies as well as the trains, princess figurines etc. great communication skills, language, leaderships skills etc.

  14. KCA says

    Thank you for backing up all these assumptions with citations to behavioral research, references to developmental studies, and (non-anecdotal) evidence. Oh, never mind. Just because, as an adult, you want to live a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean your child does, or that s/he will benefit from it.

    • says

      Our family has been turning minimalist the past couple of years and I dont need any behavioural research or development studies to know my kids play and learn better with fewer toys. No whizz-bang electronic toys, no TV, no barbies or action men, just the basics. Some wooden blocks and a few quality plastic animals and a car or two for littlies, then as they get bigger move on to Lego. Otherwise they play outside, draw pictures, or make toys out of household objects. No need for a catalogue of branded plastic junk here

  15. a cartwright says

    The term ‘Educational Toys’ was invented by the industry to sell more stuff and allow parents to feel good about it.

    I may be prejudiced but as a parent of small children living north of sixty I limited the toys and maximised the experiences.

    The only essential manufactured toy, in my opinion (and at the age of 65 I have to admit to still playing with it) is LEGO. I love that stuff, it is almost a philosophy, and kids can be endlessly creative with it.

  16. Chris says

    I agree with Joshua, that children need fewer toys. Taking children outside gives the best opportunity to take them happily away from toy overload. I’m a teacher of 4 and 5 year olds and I can offer an anecdote of this minimalist approach. We took delivery of a small armchair for the classroom and I put the box outside for the children to use. They began by playing pretending it was a car and then played Jack-in-the-box games at recess time. At one stage, several children became too boisterous and banged too hard and knocked the box over while a girl was inside, which frightened her made her cry. This was a good chance to get them all together and talk about looking after eachother and thinking about our actions. When they saw how upset this dear little girl was, I asked them if they felt bad about frightening her and they all agreed that they did, and seemed to be genuine. I told them this is called ‘regret’ and that if they think before they do something they may be able to avoid doing something they will later regret. This was good opportunity to work on self-control and social responsibility with a group of kids that needs lots of practice. Play proceeded more smoothly then. The box was a bit broken by the end of recess, however this did not diminish their interest in it as a focal point for invention. At lunch time they took it to the bottom of the slide and spent 30 mins working out together different ways of taking turns to sliding down the yellow slide into the box. After a while, one boy slid down and banged his nose on the side of the box, cried a bit then demonstrated true resilience and engagement by going up the slide again to have another go – instructing the children at the bottom to hold the box a bit lower this time. TT took the broken box to the top of the slide and tried to slide it down. Eventually, after much experimentation and teamwork, it came apart and only sections remained. Two children ran around with cardboard sections on their heads pretending it was raining and the cardboard was keeping them dry. Other children tried throwing bits in the air. At the end of lunchtime we gathered up all the bits and put them into the rubbish bin. This one cardboard box had provided 2 hours of entertainment and learning for about 15 children.

  17. Andy says

    We live in the bush, I built my children a toy.
    It is a shed, with electricity, & fire.
    It has taught them a great respect of energy.
    They use it to play, sculpt, build, melt, rebuild, refine & cook.
    We all play for countless hours with this toy.

  18. Fay says

    I disagree with this.
    Both my kids have been bought up with too many toys, the playroom is stacked high and does need a sort out but it has not affected their development of any of the attributes listed. One is a talented Artist and the other gifted in Maths but also enjoying music and languages.
    We play outside, concentration is up to 2 hours at a time, most toys are not used in original format but in part to make up imaginative play.
    Toys are cared for and shared.
    Books are loved.
    We chat, bake, and do crafts.
    I believe consistent parenting and setting a good example are key. Toys aka things do not have the power you seem to think they do.

    • says

      Type of toys is very different to how much toys, there are toys that are creative and not terrible for kids. I think some toys are fine and as kids get older the number of toys they own naturally decreases anyway.
      my eldest has almost no toys, he has a shelf full of books.
      my middle girl has a big box of lego and a few books.
      my youngest miss has cast metal vehicles a few cuddlies and a doll house and some board books.
      We have no bikes or scooters outside (my kids don’t care to own them), there’s a pile of old sheets a pallet and two hoola hoops for cubby house making and they steal the pegs from my clothes line.
      Their art supplies, games and homeschooling stuff is one chest of drawers between the three of them.
      I think some comments here are a bit confused. Minimalist isn’t owning nothing, it’s owning less so life becomes simpler. That goes for toys too. Simple, creative, open ended, timeless toys have a place in a home with children. Piles of one time play toys with little imaginative scope that can easily be passed over or worse still get outdated, can’t be expanded on or will only be used for a short while (like the electronic hundred dollar devices that teach your child to read when regular books and your time are likely cheaper) do not have a place. Simplify, fewer toys, as the title suggests.

  19. says

    I very much agree with this article… and I am a toy store owner :)

    But I am also a mother of three children, who battles clutter on a daily basis. Less is definitely more. I found it very helpful to look for “play”- tools and materials that last for a long time, and can be used in many different ways.

  20. says

    I really agree with what you’ve said here. It’s great for kids to have toys but there’s so much more to growing up than having lots and lots of toys.

  21. katie says

    I would love to do this for my niece. She has way too many toys that fill up the huge under her bed area, and she doesn’t really appreciate a single one. She never has, since birth. Being the only child in a house of teens and adults, I think she found playing with everyone elses things as well as shredding paper with scissors much more interesting.

  22. says

    A great prospective on how consumerism affects the most vulnerable part of our society, the kids. Having two kinds now in their mid twenties I am seeing a lot of their friends burry thier little ones in toys….seems crazy to me, hopefully your post will make some of them rethink their toy purchases in the future.

  23. patrick says

    You guys think too much. There are a lot of messed up and as well decent grown ups in the world. Toys don’t change that. Put them in the best school that you feel is appropriate and watch them. Spend time to teach the children family values… and obviously depending on he background you come from you have different values…. some racial groups are in generally better in society than others with stronger traditions. Understand your child’s personality and teach them as you see fit. Toys are a great tool for parents….
    We all have roles in society. Some are janitors and some are inventors… That’s life…. if we were all inventor’s then who would clean our offices?…. its just toys… grow up and go do something fruitful….

  24. Oona says

    Very well written and articulate! I agree with all of them. In my opinion, less fairy tales would be good as well, ’cause you know, they might be a very negative influence of them. Kids might think that every old woman is “a wicked witch”, that “witches” should really be burned, women must sit there obediently and wait for the “prince” etc etc etc. What do you think? :)

  25. Keywest says

    This post is so true to my heart. As I attempt to “simplify” the life of my family, I am once again encouraged that my ideas are on the right track. I have always believed that less is so much more…thanks again for a great post. Be blessed.

  26. Anonymous says

    I think that the argument is ridiculous. There’s is no right or wrong way. Every parent is different and raise their kids to the best of their ability and knowledge. Either way. We will all get to out milestones life. Who are you to judge anyone on what’s right and wrong. Advice is great but criticizing is just wrong.

    • suzanne says

      I must agree with the last comment. Every child is different. I feel that basic toys help develop different interests. I grew up on a ranch in the country. I loved my dolls, my cats, my Jr Singer sewing machine, my sheep herders cabin/playhouse and my Easy bake oven. I learned how to sew for my dolls, bake goodies with my Easybake oven and roll play with my cats, that would often wear my latest designs. To say “no toys” is not always the best advice. Basic needs depend on the child. I was the youngest and was often alone with my parents, my dolls and my cats were my friends.
      My advice is to be in tune with your child. Every child has different interests. Some toys can act as a catalyst for their future occupation.

  27. Sharon Andreani says

    My mother wisely taught me to rotate my kids toys when they were little. I would periodically place the current toys in a basket to be placed in a closet and out came the other basket of toys. My kids acted like they were getting new toys each time I rotated a basket. And, yes it helped eliminate the clutter!

  28. says

    Great article, Joshua. I struggle greatly with maintaining a healthy balance of giving gifts and not spoiling. In fact, I don’t think I do very well at all! I think your best points were appreciation for what they already have and developing longer attention spans. Thanks again!

  29. Matt king says

    I wholeheartedly agree. To the naysayers, nowhere does the writer suggest that parents should remove all toys. A few toys are great, and encouraged, but do we need 4 jumperoos, 8 puzzle sets, 10 dolls, and 50 books? No, 1 of each, and maybe 5-10 books is a good start. It doesn’t take a rock scientist to see that many children have rooms filled with toys, and attention spans of a fish. I believe the two are directly correlated.

  30. Rabbitt says

    You don’t have to get you kids many toys, but they will always remember you for the ones they wanted that you refused to give them even though you well could have afforded it. And they will learn which kids in the neighborhood have the toys they want to play with and THOSE kids will be the cool kids.

    Either way, they will remember the toys they wanted, and they’ll spend small fortunes as young adults buying themselves the ones you refused to get them up off eBay, or the ones you Gave Away because you decided you could give your kid’s things away. They may even decide to go so far as to give all your things away once you get to be too old, because you don’t need them anymore and they’re moving you to a home.

    I come from a family where we have many heirlooms, and we cherish them. We have them because our parents weren’t so quick to ditch everything. Some of the coolest toys I had growing up were the ones my dad had from his childhood, and it was wonderful playing town with a real town’s worth of vehicles!

    When it comes to books, your kids are best with hundreds of books. There Literally cannot be enough books on the shelf, to be read and reread over and over again. Five or Ten books is a anti-intellectual idea rooted in ignorance.

  31. Pinkroxy says

    I found this article very good. I am an early childhood teacher and even though I think that having fewer toys can be good for the children I believe in making the toys you have good quality ones. With good quality wooden toys they would last longer and provide more learning opportunities for children. I believe the cheaper more plastic toys will get broken quicker. When I think of quality toys I think of wooden tea sets, wooden building blocks, wooden train tracks, trucks and road set. I also believe that toys like mobilo and lego are great for children’s coordination, imagination and creativity. I also believe that dress ups are important too. Children also have a love for having a favourite character from tv shows and movies so I think buying a doll or action figure of their favourite characters is good to encourage roll plays. Wooden doll houses and dolls, baby dolls and care products also develops imaginative and family play skills. I also believe that outdoor equipment such as a family play ground set and trampoline develops a lot of physical skills for children. What I want to try and say is that toys are important for children’s development but always go for quality toys and do not go overboard and clutter your home with them. I believe pre schools have just the right amount of toys for children without it being cluttered and children are always busy with something to do.

    • Wanderdust says

      I agree. And its not number of toys its parents engaging kids in play getting them started and limiting screen time. Ask them for a couple toys they want for Christmas and it will be what they want not what you want. Then it will be played with.

  32. Jamie says

    I do not disagree with what is being said in this article. However, I would argue that many people will be lost and become defensive when you label the parents in this article as “wise” and “intentional” as it suggests to all those reading this article who may have a number of toys for their children that they are neither of those things. The message you are trying to get across will be lost for many parents for this reason.

  33. mary says

    Teach your children to put their toys away before they get something else out. Always have a clean up time before supper, and again at bedtime. Every month, go through the toys and give away the toys that are not being used. If your child is school age, do this together, teaching the child the importance of keeping their “stuff” under control, as well as sharing with others. In November, have a whole house check up, and parents and kids can go through the house, giving away any clothes, toys,and stuff that is not being used. If any relatives give your child a toy for the holiday, then you should just thank them, and have your child write a thank you note. If the child likes the new toy, let them play with it! Be grateful for all that you’ve been given. Appreciate that others want to spend their money on your kid!

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  35. says

    Wow, there are so many great reasons for fewer toys that I never thought about before. And they all make perfect sense. Many I would have first thought to be the opposite: longer attention spans, better social skills, and perseverance. All of these are first attempted to fix by giving more stuff, when truly less stuff with help develop these skills. And what I wouldn’t give for a cleaner home. :)


  36. Valerie says

    This is so interesting because what I’ve noticed in my children is that when they were babies they had less interest in their toys and more interest in household objects and kitchen items. Now they are 3 and 5 and they can be in their toy filled playroom and want to rearrange the furniture to make a camp site or play with piles of blankets and pillows. Often, they prefer to make shelters and pretend to sleep in them over playing with their toys. I have been feeling the urge to purge because it makes me feel crazy when I walk into their playroom and/ or sometimes even their bedrooms and I see “stuff” to be cleaned up. It’s all too much. I feel guilty and get stumped when I think about actually minimizing their things because the voice in my head will say, ” they are going to play with that again” or “someone spent money on that toy for them”.
    This whole concept is very inspiring and I think I’m going to get started minimizing the things my children do not need.

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  40. Sandy says

    I have often said that boredom fuels creativity. When I was a child, my grandparents had almost no toys at their house. I think they had one GI Joe doll that had belonged to my dad, three board games, one coloring book and a box of cheap crayons. Instead of ruining that one coloring book, especially using cheap crayons, I would ask my grandmother for a piece of paper and a pen (they didn’t seem to have any pencils), then I would trace the pictures in my coloring book and color them instead. Since I only had a pen, I had to learn to be careful in my tracing. Before long, I found myself drawing still-life pictures of things around the house or trying to free-hand copy photos. Instead of asking for a Barbie Dream House for Christmas or my birthday, I started to ask for things like colored pencils, markers, or paint-by-number sets. At the age of 9, I was voted by my 4th grade class as the best artist and was put into the gifted art program. Now my kids are 5 and 9 and I’ve often wondered why they never took to drawing. But when I really sit back and think about it, why would they? They are surrounded by toys so they are never bored. I don’t envision getting rid of all of their toys, but I do think that we’ll start clearing out the ones that don’t fuel their creativity.

  41. Laura says

    Let us define what a “toy” is. Toys are needed and integral parts of childhood. They are necessary for brain development, physical development, and social development.

    But toys do not have to be the things purchased at a toy store. A long stick is a toy that can be a walking stick, a tightrope, a flagpole, a rifle, a wizard staff, a superhero long arm, etc. That plastic bowl is a drum and a hat and a chair, and a way to turn your stomach into Santa Clause.

    There is a difference in the value of different toys too. Legos, dolls, coloring books, and toy trucks all have proven to be valuable (and timeless) while other things such as the Skip-It or a robotic dog that only walks and barks, or colorforms, or any of those toys from a fast food place hold little value in child development, have limited uses, are quickly outgrown, fail to hold attention long-term, and are quickly forgotten. One group has value and the other does not.

    I think the author isn’t saying no toys have value but rather to take a minimalist approach in the toys you do bring into the home. Choose toys that have long-term value over a quick flash in popularity. Don’t buy toys that are very specific in their uses but rather aim for toys that can be used in multiple ways in multiple imaginative scenarios.

  42. Sim says

    I have recently done a major clean out of my son’s toys and only left things that invite open ended play like blocks, cars, animal figurines, play dough. He is calmer, is exploring new ways to play with the toys (making a zoo from blocks and toy animal figurines) and it is saving me a fortune in batteries. Next challenge is my daughter’s room, which looks overloaded but is actually mostly full of China figures she collects. We limit toy input by saying they have to earn pocket money and can use that for toys, sweets or activities. My daughter usually uses hers to go horse riding. For birthdays and Christmases we give a suggestion list of things like new art supplies, play dough, water beads, books etc. this is new to us, but the more we take away (gradually and with their permission) the happier that are, and the more the left over toys are used.

  43. nil says

    42 years old.I grow up with no tv no phone no computer no toys
    (only homemade). So im not talented, social or creater:))

  44. Leslie Gutkowski says

    I agree with this article and don’t understand why people feel the need to explain some toys are good learning tools as the author never said they were not. I agree yes many toys are great learning tools and great for imaginative play too. I do agree to limiting the amount having been a preschool teacher and running my own home daycare. I have a ton and switch them out from time to time. I will admit in winter I tend to buy more toys to keep busy when stuck indoors or switch more often. I have noticed variety is good and to have choices but 100% agree with author and have witnessed better behavior with less clutter and toys around. The author is simply suggesting to limit a bit NOT having no toys. I don’t think obsessing over anything like another person replied… Sure let them be little have fun but if you are creative and use your mind I too believe you can find several ways to learn without toys too, household items and nature items can be made to blocks for building, sorting, counting, creating, cause and effect and the list goes on! Great article I think and great points don’t know why people are jumping the gun about no toys that is not what article was preaching AND the argument whether kids need toys or not all depends on who they are with… If you have no creative other ideas to entertain your child and enhance learning maybe certain toys are a great tool for you and your child and that is fine. Toys are great and have come along way but I definitely see the benefits of limiting and not having toy overload for reasons mentioned here :).

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