Getting Kids to Actually Play with Their Toys
It's only mid-summer and already I've heard, "Mom, I'm bored" more times than I can count. When I look around the house I see more toys than any one child needs. There are dollies with strollers, blocks in bins, board games, trucks, jump ropes - you name it, and it is somewhere in this house. When my kids begin to complain that they have nothing to do, I point out their toys to little affect.
How can parents encourage children to actually play with the toys they have?
The first step is to take stock of the growing piles of stuff your child has collected in his or her short life time. Now is the time to make keep, sell, and donate piles. You may even ask your child to choose a charity not only for the donate pile, but for the money raised from the sell pile as well. This is another great opportunity to work on teaching gratitude.
Now that you have less toys to manage, hold a pretend yard sale in your home for just your kids! Asking them to "buy" the toys back with pretend money is a fun way for them to re-evaluate their favorites and revisit some old toys they may have forgotten.
Be sure that you don't fall back into old habits when it comes time to put the remaining toys away. Rather than continue to store everything in the family room or play area, put a portion of the toys in a plastic bin to store out of site, then occasionally rotate which toys are available. Keeping toys away for part of the year peaks children's interest when they become available for play once again.
Once you've chosen the toys to remain in use, assess how easy it is for your children to access their toys. While keeping toys out on the floor or simply stacking them in the corner is no parent's idea of organization, it is a good idea to keep toys on low shelfs in easy to sort through bins and baskets. Not only does this make it easier for your child to choose a toy, but it is also much safer.
While you're working on toy storage, you may also want to consider keeping some toys in unexpected places. Try a stack of puzzles at the foot of your bed for when you're folding laundry in the master bedroom, a basket of books in the living room for some quiet time away from louder, bigger toys, or crafting items in the kitchen to be completed at the table. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to make a toy more interesting.
Still finding that your children are neglecting their toys and complaining of boredom? Consider a toy swap with local friends. Each month, choose age appropriate toys, place them in a bin with your family's name on it, and swap with a friend whose children are a similar age. This is a great way to enjoy new toys without a trip to the store! And the best part? When the children are finished playing with them you can give them back.
What are your tips for getting kids re-interested in the toys they already own?