When there are children in the home, it can sometimes feel like you are being taken over by toys. Too many toys can be overwhelming to a young child, especially when only a select few seem to get much use.
The most obvious solution is to limit the number of toys coming into the home. Toys from dollar stores or yard sales can be tempting as they are so inexpensive, but they can pile up. Consider having a rule that for every new toy coming in, and old one must go out.
If your child receives an allowance, have her save her money for a toy she really wants. This gives her time to think about the purchase rather than choosing a toy on impulse that may not hold her interest for long.
Make sure there is a place for everything. A big toy box may hold a lot, but it can be hard to find a particular item without emptying the entire box. Instead, use smaller containers or sturdy wall-mounted shelves to house toys.
From the time your child is a toddler, he should be able to help put away toys after playing. You can make this process fun and easy by taping picture labels on each container so he knows where everything belongs. Group similar toys together. For example, keep building toys, plastic figures or stuffed animals in separate containers.
Keep toys fresh and interesting by putting some into a box and storing them away. After a few weeks, bring those toys out and put different ones away. This is also a good way to see which of the toys are favourites and which are not.
When a birthday or Christmas is approaching and your child is likely to be receiving new toys, take the opportunity to go through the collection together.
Broken toys can be repaired, or if beyond the point of repair, they can go in the garbage.
Ask your child about toys that he may have outgrown or ones that you have not seen him play with in some time. Expect some resistance, but insist that a few toys need to go and help him decide which ones he is ready to part with. Box them up and take them to a friend or donate to a charity, or if you prefer, you can put the boxes aside for a garage sale at a later date.
Your child learns through play, and when she has a small and organized collection of toys, they are excellent tools to help her develop new skills.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers
parenting information and support.
» 255 Ninth St., Brandon
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 5, 2013