Being Really into One Specific Toy

Updated on November 09, 2006
A.F. asks from Portland, OR
18 answers

My 4yr old loves his tools he plays with them alot, but at the same time he loves to play with other toys also but majority of the time he plays with his tools. Recently his daycare stoped my mom as she dropped him off and voiced their concern about the situation telling her that they had to remove the one and only screwdriver that was in his class because he played with it so much, Anways the daycare wants to have him assesed for something they call oppositional defiance. I guess my main question is that do you think its wrong for a child to have a favorite toy like his tools that he plays with all the time?

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answers from Portland on

HI A.,

I read through some of the responses to your question and I may make someone mad in my response. I think that perhaps what your saying isn't enough information for people to give real informed advice. As a childcare provider and a mom I have a different view on this. Many children have a favorite toy. this is normal. the degree to which this toy is a favorite can be a cause for concern. When my oldest son was four he had a favorite thing. It was blue from blues clue. Sometimes he would play withs other toys but this was his favorite. I felt this was normal and didnt worry until we lost the toy and he screamed for 3 days and wouldnt eat or sleep until a friend found the exact same toy and brought it to us.

We did find out that this was a symptom of what he has now been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. It was his first obsession and he could not function without the toy. He didn't have to have it with him at all times but he needed to know where it was and that noone had moved it or taken it. He could not be taught to share and he could not take it near other children because they would want to play with the toy and he would panic.

I am not saying your child has anything like this or that you child needs to be tested for oppositional defience disorder (which my son was also tested for by the way) but if this is a significant problem maybe you need to look into more and talk to you pediatrician.

I don't think that you should immediatley discount what your daycare worker is saying because they see your child when you do not and that behavious may be much different then you experience. This may be a real problem for them at the center and hence the need to remove the toy.

So I would get your son a special set of these screwdrivers he likes so much and give them a special place for him at home so he is aware that they are always there for him and maybe that will help him.

Good luck and have heart.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

A.! You need to talk to the director. It is obvious that the teachers who took out the screw driver do not understand child development. Security issues may be encouraging his one-item-play but, it is completely normal for children to like one object, one story, one movie...and use that item over and over, and over again.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd talk personally with the director of the day care center. I had a child with oppositional defiance disorder and as the other mother said it includes behavior unrelated to the screwdriver. If they are calling it oppositional definace disorder because he fights them taking away his screwdriver that is so wrong. But if he is oppositional and fighting about everything then they might, I say might, have reason to suggest that disorder. But I doubt even that at this age.

I recommend that you find out about the disorder before talking with the director and compare what you know about it with what the director is describing for you. You can find out about the disorder on the internet or go to the library.

If you learn anything that might indicate any sort of problem I would have him evaluated because it is easier to make corrections at an early age. Even you pediatrician could give you some direction.

My 3yo grandson isn't talking yet and he's involved in a program provided by the school district. They provide evaluation for free as a part of the Early Intervention Program to provide success in school. If any child has that disorder it would be him. He refuses to co-operate at school by either sitting down when he should be walking in the line or by refusing to sit down when he should be sitting. He also screams no, hits, kicks, butts his head. They are evaluating him and have not suggested such a disorder. I think he is totally frustrated and angry because he is the only child in his class who cannot talk. They are working to find ways to help him adjust in addition to the speech therapy he's had since spring.

I tell you about my grandson because there may be something else going on at school that is causing your son to be frustrated and angry. That does not mean he has the disorder. It means that you and the school need to find out why he's acting that way and make some changes. And consider the possibility that this day care is not a good fit for your son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I am sorry you are having struggles with this issue. As I read about this the red flags were popping up, because being really attached to one toy, or type of toy is a symptom of an autism-related disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. My daughter has it, so this is why it jumped out at me. Kids with this syndrome are extremely smart. Their IQ's are above average, sky high. They are usually more attached to their favorite toy than other kids are to theirs. It gets to an unhealthy level where it inteferes with other things in life, which may be why the daycare felt the need to take it away. My daughter's obsession happens to be horses. She will spend a long time just lining them up in a row. Kids with A.S. tend to prefer to play alone, or with their favorite toy, or along side other children, rather than interacting with them back and forth in conversation. They prefer to be with adults, older children, or younger children rather than with kids their own age.
They usually have sensory integration issues too, like being bothered by clothes, shoes, etc. Not liking to be touched, hate getting teeth brushed, hair brushed, etc. Not wanting to get dirty or wet, etc. Walking on their tip toes, covering their ears and/or crying over noises like the hair dryer, toilet flushing, vacuum, etc. OR they can't get enough sensory stimulation - still put things in their mouth after age 3, licks, tastes, smells things that they shouldn't. Craves water, sand, and playdough play. Doesn't seem to notice or care if it is cold outside and they don't have a coat on, touches things a lot that kids don't normally touch, (for example, my daughter HAS TO touch any railing, border, or edge around something everywhere we go) has no concept of others' personal space, etc.

Kids like this also seem to be very oppositional, and defiant, however they are not being "bratty" or acting "spoiled" they just literally can't cope. The world is so overwhelming and confusing to them that they have frequent "meltdowns" because they can't handle life and don't know how to explain what is wrong. They can be agressive, or just tend to ignore people all together in social situations. Sometimes they have poor eye contact, sometimes they don't.

They often have obsessive-compulsive or repetitive behaviors. (My daughter used to have to knock on every door 3 times before it could be opened, and had to be the one to turn on every light switch.)

Often kids like this will pretend to be an animal, (more than normal kids would) especially in social situations where they might be uncomfortable.

They don't really have a concept of time like knowing what yesterday means, or morning versus evening, and usually don't have a well developed sense of danger.
Thay also have a tendecy to wander off or run away.

That being said, not every kid with an autism related disorder like Asperger's Syndrome has all of these symptoms. These are just some red flags. The fact that your son has an obsession with tools to the point that the school is taking the screwdriver away because he played with it too much, and the fact that they want him tested for being "oppositional" and "defiant", those things combined are a cause for concern. I would seriously look into getting a doctor's opinion, and If your son has ANY of the other symtoms I have described, PLEASE get him evaluated for an autism related condition. The sooner you can get him help (occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, and if necessary, speech therapy and physical therapy ) the better.

I am not telling you this to worry you, but knowing what I know now with my daughter, I wish someone had pointed out the red flags to me sooner, because I could have gotten her help sooner.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions, and you may want to google asperger's syndrome, or PDD for more information.

Best Wishes,

P.S. I wanted to add that I have two other normal children ages 8, and 6. The difference in the behavior with my daughter who is almost 4, is night and day compared to their typical oppositional behavior when they were the same age.(All 4 yr. olds are oppositional to SOME degree) My other kids had favorite toys too, but it is definitley more of an obsession with my daughter with Asperger's.
One of the things that lead me to get my child evaluated was to observe her around other kids the same age and that is when I really began to see the difference standing out, even though I had been concerned for a while that she was different than my other kids were at that age. So, I just thought that it might be a good idea if you can swing it with your schedule, to go and just quietly observe him with the other kids his age one day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

hmmm let me see a 4 year old who is defiant has a favorite toy and is opositional?? wow yeah I would say that is a disorder right there. I have never heard of opositional defiant disorder I have heard of head strong kids that want what they want and dont want to share. They are mostly 4 or 5 years old. I read the mothers with the autism related disorders and if he is showing any of the OTHER signs then have your doctor check him out. But if he is just opositional defiant and 4 years old I would say that is about normal. And check into a new daycare I would remove my son and not do it quietly if they took the toy away from my son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Another thing...if anything, the school and you should be encouraging him for being ingenuitive. Like, "Wow, you like to fix things. What a good worker you are. You are smart and build things very well." Acting negative about it will only make him feel guilty and not build his self-esteem.



answers from Sacramento on

This makes me very angry that a daycare would do this! How horrid for you to be told your son has a disorder based on NORMAL BEHAVIOR!!! I agree with the other respondants, THIS IS NORMAL, TALK TO THE DIRECTOR, LOOK AT YOUR SON IN WHOLE, NOT BASED ON LIKING ONE TOY!!!!! Oppositional defiancy is once the child has learned how to defy and has gotten enough attention from defiance that this is his only way of getting attention is in the negative... this really heats me up that they would attempt to suggest a diagnosis so severe for a tiny 4 yr old!!!

Be comforted. He sounds perfectly normal and healthy. Please use your dr's judgments and your own before listening to this nonsence!



answers from Seattle on

I don't think there is anything wrong with it, and I think it is ridiculous that the daycare would take it away. How sad for your son to have his favorite toy taken away ONLY because it is his favorite...



answers from Salt Lake City on

There is NOTHING wrong with your son! Perfectly fine to have a favorite toy! DON'T let anyone assess your kid! Perfectly normal and YES, your child IS smart, just like mine!



answers from Portland on

I personally think it is ok that kids prefer certain toys over others. I had a nephew who loved trains. He always played with trains. Occasionally he would play with other toys, but I would say 90% of the time it was trains. He carried trains with him and everything. He is now 8 and into various toys and does fine. I have never heard of oppositional defiance and really have no idea about it. I know as a kid I always had my favorite toys I would play with way more then others. I think that is human nature.



answers from Yakima on

i dont think theres anything wrong with having a favorite toy at all, i think the day care shouldn't be taking the toy away from him, unles he's not sharing, but playing with his tools all the time i think is normal for a little boy.



answers from Spokane on

First, your child is too young to accurately guage whether or not he has oppositional definace disorder, so don't stress about it. (For those who don't know, Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a psychological disorder in which children display frequent and consistent defiant behavior that stands out when compared with other children of the same age and developmental level and when it affects the child's social, family, and academic life. The key is that the defiant behavior causes serious impairment in everyday life--sorry, I'm a psych major who happens to have a teenager with ODD) Call me an overreactive mom, but if I were you I'd be telling the daycare to shove it. Kids often latch on to one particular toy (or type of toys) and it's completely normal. He just happens to like tools instead of blocks, or leggos, or tea sets. My daughter is the same way with ponies. She won't play with anything else except pony dolls if she has a choice. Although it could be an indication of more serious problems, I wouldn't be overly concerned unless it begins to disrupt his life.



answers from Provo on

I am not sure if being in to a specific toy is a bad thing-all
kids seem to have one toy that they really love-it's only a worry thing if they never move on.I am a medical assistant bot didn't recertify yet so I am working in a call center for now.Where do u go to school?I am also a single mom of a 5 year old.I am going to school trying to get my generals done so I know what you're going through.



answers from Eugene on

No, it's not... I see it as having a special blanket or stuffed animal that they sleep with.

What kind of toys is he playing with at home??? I don't see anything wrong with having some favorite toys.

Have you looked up what they are saying that your son supposedly has??/ Does the person that is saying this have a PhD in behavior??? The fact that this person said it to your mom and not you makes me question them?? To me that is something that should be brought to the attention of the daycare director, the comment was very unprofessional!

I know that my son's 1st grade teacher kept saying that he had ADHD... we had him tested and there was nothing wrong with him. If you read the oppositional defiance and red flags come up, with some like behaviors then I would take him to your son's ped and have your son tested...

Good Luck and let me know how things go.



answers from Portland on

Honestly, why should it matter? He's 4! Next year he'll be in Kindergarten and having to learn how to read & write. He will be exposed to so much more then. I think the daycare he goes to now need to just sit back and relax. Let him be a little boy. If he has one specific toy he really likes, great! There's not one thing wrong with that. Besides, I think that maybe they (the workers at the daycare) are too used to seeing children play with everything in sight. Their "diagnosis" of oppositional defiance is completely wrong. Symptoms include NONE of what your son is exhibiting. They are: frequent temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults, active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules, deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people, blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior, often being touchy or easily annoyed by others, frequent anger and resentment, mean and hateful talking when upset, seeking revenge. With that said, and if it was my son, I wouldn't worry about it. Like I said before...he's 4. I hope everything works out for you, A..
J. B
P.S. I, too, live in Portland. :)



answers from Anchorage on

I sincerely hope they are recommending an evaluation based on more than the child's love of a specific toy! Unless he is displaying multiple symptoms of the disorder, I'd be seriously concerned with the centers personnel and inappropriate labeling of my child.

It's normal for children to have a fondness for particular toys. My dd has, what I consider an irrational attachment to a molded shark... she loves that shark, and you know what, so be it. It's her "one thing" the tools are your sons.

I would sit down with the director of the center and talk to them at length as to why they feel your son has issues. If they aren't educated on normal preschool behavior patterns, I'd be a little nervous about continuing with them.



answers from Boise on

Maybe instead of taking away his favourite toy, he should be taught to share it. It's great to have a favourite, unless the screwdriver doesn't belong to him personally. Then sharing is caring.



answers from Phoenix on

I belive that it's better that way because when they do something bad thats the one thing you can take away for punnishment. like grounding when he's a teenager as a 4 year old that's like taking away his life and he'll eventually change his ways. you know what I mean? but if you really think you should, Go get him checked to proove them wrong. My son's favorit toy is his shoes. it's like he can't get enough of shoes and it you take his off OH Does he cry. It's almost like it's the end of his world because his shoes came off. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

OH AND ANOTHER THING!!! I think all these "disorders" are for all those doctors out there to just make money. People are normal there just differant and 'It's become a disorder for being YOU. Do you get that? I have respect for doctors becuase sometimes there right but most of the time I belive that everyone is there own person and we can't listen to everyone all the time or else the whole world would be all the same people.

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