April 23, 2010

Their Potential is Worth It!

This morning the boys found my bag of extra plastic bags I keep on the door knob in the kitchen. Max had an old sock with him and the twins were hunting around for something like it. They had some idea in mind and I was grinning and waiting to see what it was. Soon I overheard Max asking my husband to tie the sock onto the handles of the plastic bag. Then it was soon clear....they were making parachutes!! They played with them for hours outside.
It reminded me of the article I read recently at simple kids by Joshua Becker. He did a wonderful job listing the benefits of providing your kids with LESS toys. I can hear you gasping... "what less toys!"....but take a look at this list of benefits your kids will recieve.
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 schuster) 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.

We have been doing this since we had kids and the benefits are all reality. One more benefit to add is that when given gifts by others, our boys are very grateful and it really pleases the one who gave a gift to them. This makes mom and dad very proud :) We also have been known to take the toys the boys have, sort them and put half of them away for a future date. Then we pull out toys we put away from before and it keeps the selection fresh and inspires new creativity and imagination. My brillant husband keeps all the broken toys...these as he suspected are the favorites.
I am a gift giver. I will spend oodles of time and effort making or looking for just the right thing, adding a card to go along or flowers to make it special.I can often be quite elaborate. AND..... I love toys. There are so many really fun and educational toys out there. So it was very natural for me to want to show my kids how much I loved them (lots!) by getting them the best toys! My husband though being wiser and wired a bit differently helped me to see that love can be shown in allot of ways other than buying lots of cool toys. He set a good habit in our house from the beginning tolive with less and I have stuck to it. When the boys were babies, crawling and toddling around we provided old conatiners of every shape and size. Ones with screw tops, squeeze bottles, small, large, ones that fit inside each other. We provied old boxes, bottle caps of different colors, all sorts of junk and stuff, but clean and safe junk. The boys had a ball!
Now that they are older we still have kept to the intential idea of providing them with less. One bike, three boys...they learn how to set up a rota and take turns. It is fun to see them work out how to solve the problem. You must be ready though for some fighting and arguing, some attempts to steal and lie. But this is all real life lessons. We love that they have the oppertunity to work out these things, learn the skills to manage it and in a safe and loving environment.

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