Child Hoards Toys

Updated on February 13, 2012
C.N. asks from Adjuntas, PR
8 answers

My son is 3 1/2 and has a habit of piling all of his toys anywhere he can, under his covers of his bed, on the couch, behind the couch everywhere... He thinks that someone is going to steal them and he needs to build a home to make them safe. It has driven me totally crazy and now it is at the point that it is a problem at preschool. He even have a occupational therapist looking at him for abnormal behavior. His therapist said that it was not normal and that she actually had never seen anyone do it before. If I don;t try to control it he will start to take the pots and pans out of my cupboard and pile this up too! Its like a black hole of stuff. From some parents they say it is normal and not to worry about, its just there imagination , but for me and my point of view I just cant understand it? I dont want to hurt him emotionally and make his feel different, but lots of people in our lives are saying this is not normal. This is a major issue everywhere we go, I understand that kids dont have to share everything, but even when we go to his cousins house he will start to hoard all of his toys there too! I wish it would stop for his sake and mine as it is effecting many different aspects of our life. What to I do to stop this and get him to not feel so paniced about the toys?

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answers from San Francisco on

Could this simply be a manifestation of the difficulty sharing that all 3 year olds have? I'd try lots of practice putting him in situations where he has to share first.

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answers from Chicago on

Sometimes hoarding is anxiety based. Does he show other tendencies of anxiety?

Typically, with actually hoarding, there is a fear that you are not in control OR that you won't be "prepared" with something that you need, you are literally trying to "fill a hole".

It sounds like this is may also be OCD driven (also rooted in anxitey), he wants to make sure he doesn't LOSE his toys. Have there been times he felt he "unfairly" had to share toys or that they were taken from him? any other issues where he has "lost control" of his environment and this is how he is reacting?

I would say this may need psychological intervention maybe greater than the OT can provide. But she can probably give you a referral.

Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Well, as it is 'effecting many different aspects of your life', perhaps it's time to discuss this behavior with your ped and ask for a referral to a child psychologist, or a ped behavioral specialist. Sooner rather then later, as it can often times take awhile to get an appt.


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answers from Phoenix on

why is he seeing an OT? It may help to have more info on him and if he has any disabilites. Otherwise, my first response would be to have him checked out but you said his therapist is already aware and doing something. You are right to be concerned and have it checked out, that way you will know what needs to be done to help him. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

To you they may just be piles, but is there any chance there is a pattern to these piles by color or type of toy? Are certain types of toys placed in particular locations? Does he line things up as well or get upset if things are not placed just so? I'm not a specialist, but I have read that lining up things and grouping things (perhaps that's what he's doing with the piles) can be an Autism or Spectrum Disorder sign. So, no it may not be normal for an average child, but this doesn't necessarily mean that it is a behavior that can't be worked with or is somehow something as serious as a mental illness like OCD/hoarding. Only a specialist can know for sure.

I say talk with your pediatrician and see if they think this is something that needs evaluation by a private specialist (not through the school).


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answers from Chicago on

My 6 yr old son does this too, but it's only been since his younger brother started getting into his things. He hides his toys in his bed, or loads them up in a green bag (shopping bag) and carries them from room to room so he can protect them. When I ask him why, he says it's so Brendan can't get them. Does your son have a sibling who takes his stuff? If not, I would mention it to the pediatrician. He may refer you to a therapist who can help get to the bottom of it. It would be great if you could nip this in the bud before it becomes a problem later in life. Best wishes!



answers from Las Vegas on

Can you ask him which toys he is especially attached to and let him hid 2 toys (or as many as you are comfortable with) as to try to wean him off of hoarding everything.

Does he have siblings? Does he have a favorite toy? Is it lost?

I have seen this many times and my children are grown and I have grandchildren and teach the 3yr olds in church. I have a couple of children in church that "hoard" or just take and keep at their chair the items that we are learning.

I hope this helps you breathe a little...


answers from Topeka on

I am sorry. I am not trying to be rude. But he is 3 1/2. Maybe he had a bad experience at daycare with someone taking away his toy and it's all his 3 year old brain can think of to save his toys from this kid. You never really know what's going on in kids minds. He is pratically still a baby and you really should not worry so much about this right now. I say if in 3 years he is still piling all his toys and hiding them, then something might be amiss.
Kids do wacky things. I thought my son was going to have some type of speech problem. He repeated everything he said for several months and it drove me insane! I even looked it up and it's a real disorder. But you know what? He doesn't do it anymore. He is now 5 and totally healthy and happy.

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