“Our studies show that giving children too many toys or toys of the wrong types can actually be doing them harm. They get overwhelmed and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it,” ~Claire Lerner, L.C.S.W-C, Zero to Three
Kid STUFF has been a pretty popular topic swirling around me lately.
Here are a few things I have heard or read:
Their room is a disaster!
My kids’ STUFF is everywhere! They never put away their toys when they are done playing with them.
They don’t respect nor do they take care of their belongings.
Now here are a few statistics:
The average size of an American home went up from 1,725 sq ft in 1983 to 2,598 sq ft in 2013. (http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/04/real_estate/american-home-size/)
However, the average size of an American family went down from 3.26 persons/family in 1983 to 3.12 persons/family in 2013. ( https://www.statista.com/statistics/183657/average-size-of-a-family-in-the-us/)
Therefore the average square footage per person in a home has increased from 529 sq ft to 832 sq ft. That is over 300 square feet of space more per person to put more STUFF in.
For kids, that means more toys!!!
More dress up clothes
More building toys
More action figures and dolls
More “learning” toys
More pretend play toys (kitchens, workshops, etc.)
More outdoor play toys for inside (trampolines, jumpy houses, little tikes cars, slides, tunnels, etc.)
All given with the intention of providing variety and choices for our little ones and to encourage independence.
Yet, according to a British study published in The Telegraph, children probably play with just 5% or their toys! (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/8074156/Ten-year-olds-have-7000-worth-of-toys-but-play-with-just-330.html)
And then we go back to the quote at the beginning of this post. For children under the age of 5, they play less when they have more toys due to overwhelm, distraction, and inability to concentrate on one thing for the amount of time that it takes for them to learn from that toy. Let that marinade for a few minutes.
Let’s examine the complaints again:
Their room is a disaster! – It’s huge and they have a ton of STUFF. They probably have a hard time finding anything and it’s probably completely overwhelming for them. Then they are told to “clean your room!” Where are on earth should they start? We can’t even compare to when we were kids because I bet that most of you reading this did not have as much STUFF as your kids now have. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Cleaning up for kids these days looks a whole lot different than it did for us when we were kids.
My kids never put away their toys when they are done playing with them! – Tons of toys=overwhelm and distraction. Especially if they are young, they probably go from one toy to the next as their senses are so overwhelmed they are unable to concentrate on any one toy for a long period of time. Therefore, a trail of toys are littering the living room. It’s a lot easier to put away their favorite doll, a book, and a toy car on the shelf than having to clean up all the toy food items that have been vomited all over the floor.
They don’t respect nor do they take care of their belongings – If there is a constant flow of STUFF coming in, it brings down the value of the STUFF. Basic economics I guess. A simple case of supply and demand. Demand is high; supply is low; high value. Supply is high; the demand is low; the value is low. It’s as simple as that.
So, next time you start to feel your blood pressure rising in regards to the kid clutter, I invite you to take a pause and imagine yourself at their age but in their current situation.
And then imagine the possibilities of life if this particular issue were just eliminated from your lives.
You don’t feel the need to nag, the child doesn’t feel nagged.
What does life look like to you without you or your child having to deal with all that STUFF?
How does that feel in your body and your heart?
Perhaps you can do yourself and your child a favor by taking the steps to simplify their environment with them.