My Son Does Not Play with His Toys Anymore - Anybody Know Why?

Updated on November 01, 2009
W.S. asks from Pomona, CA
13 answers

My son is almost 5 yr old. Over the years, he has a colleciton of Thomas trains, firetrucks, various planes and ships as well as other toys. He seems lost interests in playing with them about 6 mo. ago (now I try to think back). He would look at them once in a while, does not really play like he used to. The strange thing is that he knows where those things (planes or ships etc) are, and they are still very much his toys. If the toys were misplayed, he would notice right away and ask about it. My husband blamed me that I want him to clear up after the play, he said maybe he does not want to clear up, that was why he stop played. I donot think it is the case: When we had play dates, he does not really play with other kids' toys neither.
The only things he seems enjoying doing now is reading books with dad; or role play with dad based on the story he knew or making up stories or watching his favorite show (like upside down show in Nick Jr.) and acting along the show while watching. Sometimes I saw him talking and walking round by himself; acting as if the show was playing. He enjoyed doing by himself so much that one time he closed his room door and did not want me to bother him.
Any idea or suggestion about his behavior?

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So What Happened?

I am afraid to a point that he only wants to be with himself. Other plays do not interest him anymore. He does not play with other kids a lot. One reason is that he is a kind of shy kid; on top of that, he is not very intersted in playing. It is hard to watch him playing by himself. He seems content. but as parents, we do not want him to be alone.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Childern chaange and theis interest change dont worry about him get him books you might assk him if any toys if there any toys are you encoughage him to have freisds good luck A. raised for children it can be changling

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answers from Los Angeles on

My son is nine and he still does imaginary play. His favorite "toy" is a belt that he swings around and makes sound effects with outside. He usually likes to do this this by himself for about 1/2 hour after school. Whenever I ask him about the story he's acting out he'll either be so into it he doesn't feel like explaining then or he comes out with a fantastic story. I encourage him to write them down now and we are working on a book. It looks kinda funny to see him walk around whipping a belt around and making sound effects. It reminds me of when I was little and my imagination was limitless. These times are precious. Rest assured he will become more interested in "real" things when he gets older. Albert Einstein wrote: "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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answers from Los Angeles on

Sometimes children do avoid playing if there is too big an emphasis placed on the clean-up. Children naturally move through various stages where they focus in on playing in certain ways and stop other types of play. You may find that your son returns to those older items and even finds new, creative ways to play with them as he grows. One of the best sites about how children play is Before I was a mom I was a teacher and learned so much from her about the way children play and learn!

P.S. You can also check out for details about an upcoming in person or live over the computer two-day seminar Good Stuff For Kids. It's amazing information for parents to have so we can understand how best to help our children. I did this once and it was life changing!



answers from San Diego on

Perhaps he is just more into imaginitive play at this stage. Maybe you need to try different toys. I would try a puppet show, some dress up clothing, a kitchen set where he can pretend to cook, a tool bench or tool set etc. Try to get some wooden blocks that he could build with or legos.

I think he may be tired of the same toys or out growing them.

Good luck and let us know. :o)



answers from Chicago on

Congrats! Your son sounds very intelligent and creative, and it sounds like at 5 he is bored with his toys and discovering his imagination more. Reading books is one of the best things a child can do, and with dad makes it that much more perfect. You should be proud. Nurture his love of reading.
My son is three. He plays in the backyard and wanders around talking, making up creative stories. This is so important for his development and imagination. He still plays with his trains, etc. Sometimes he plays by himself in his room, and I smile to myself and LEAVE HIM ALONE. It's very important that kids spend time alone playing, sometimes. Of course, a play date now and then is good for social skills, too. As long as you limit tv, it sounds like your son is at a great age where his imagination is taking off, and he's outgrowing some of his toys (though he's still possessive of them and not ready to have them out of sight). It's like when a kid goes to college. They don't use their room at home anymore much, but they are distraught if it gets messed with.


answers from Los Angeles on

Reading books and making up stories w/dad sounds good.
Are there some major differences between how you interact with your son and the way his dad interacts with him?
Has your son got any newer (not necessarily brand new but new to him) toys in the last year or so . . . toys for an older child?
I just read the earlier responses.
You got some great advice here.
I have nothing to add.



answers from Los Angeles on

I think that your son has just outgrown his toys. That is OK. Look into some drama/acting classes. It will allow him to be around other children who are more into imagination and acting. It will also help build up his confidence and come out of his shyness a little. Otherwise, just let him be. He sounds like he is doing just fine. Good Luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi W.,
My son is 7. He stopped playing with some of this toys - especially those Thomas Trains - awhile ago. But he still plays with other toys - mostly his dinosaurs and cars. He makes up games with them and he makes up lots of games for me to play with him. I think this is normal behavior for 5 year olds and it's great that your son is using his imagination and likes to read. This may just be his personality. My son was more quiet at 5 but now that he's 7, he's more outgoing and has lots of friends.

Is your son in any after school activities? Karate, Cub Scouts, T-ball, Soccer? Doing something like this may bring him out of his shell and teach him to be more social. My son has done karate since he was 3. He has gained a lot of self confidence and learned to speak in front of a group - they take turns leading the class. Cub Scouts has taught him about working together and charity. Maybe doing this type of activity will help his social skills as well.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hard to say whether he is just done with Thomas the train have stuff in your home that you don't touch or think about or "play" with that stays on the shelf too. You're just over it for now. I have a 18 yr old with autism and he doesn't sound autistic, instead your son sounds like he enjoys reading and books and playacting, find some other kids that like that, the library?, children's plays? and local productions for kids and see if he interacts. Playdates are great and kids his own age are good, but he likes the attention of his dad, what about you actually playing with him too. No orders or commands, or instruction, just play and let him lead...let the neat Mom go for an hour or so...he's probably less social than you want, just try to be with him and see what kind of imagination he has, I bet it's fantastic!!! have fun! PS. don't pick up after your playtime, just let it be for awhile and later that night he may pick it up, just see what happens.



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm in the same boat with my 5 year old daughter. She's really not interested in her dolls anymore, but isn't ready to let go of them. Her interests are more around coloring reading and playing dress up, but she's always wants friends around.

I would say to leave him alone... to a point. Remember, you are mom and know when something's up. If you think something is really wrong go with your gut and give a call to your pediatrician. I recently read an Article in Scholasic Magazine (Oct 09 issue) about Asperger's Syndrome. I think it would be worthwhile for you to check out.

Also maybe a trip to the Zoo (a little change in scenery) would be beneficial as well. If you're stuck in a rut day in and day out chances are he is too and is just looking for a little escape.

Good luck.



answers from Las Vegas on

This may just be your son's temperment and the way he has chosen to learn about and explore the world. Have you considered accepting him the way he is and just and going with it. Let him be. He is not hurting anybody or doing anything dangerous. Also, it is okay to be shy or introverted. The world needs all kinds of people.

Between the ages of 3 and 5, the imagination of children develop and grow by leaps and bounds. Developmentally, this is progress. It is supposed to happen.

It may seem surprising, but not every child is interested in toys. My son definitely isn't (and he's a normal, healthy four-year old). What's more, it sounds like your son is highly creative, maybe even creatively gifted. Who knows? Maybe he will become a successful and famous author one day.



answers from Las Vegas on

I think you've already got a lot of good responses, though I just skimmed through. Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

Have you thought about signing him up for a class, maybe theater/acting or music? Maybe art, or even a storytime at the library (not sure if they have those for older children). If you could find something that interests him (especially if it has other kids) it might ease any fears you have about him not wanting to be social.

Also, even though he doesn't need to have 'toys' to be learning and enjoying life and his imagination, have you let him go through a toy store and pick out things he'd like to have, just to see if ANY toys interest him anymore? Maybe he's just outgrown the stuff he has. Board games or puzzles might be worth a try.
Also, what about (a limited amount) of gaming, either on a Wii or computer, that interest him but still stimulate his brain? That wouldn't necessarily encourage sociality, but maybe if he could play a game with one of you or invite a cousin/friend over?
Last thought, what about active and/or outdoor play? Skateboarding, biking, scooters, trampoline, sports, swimming, gardening?

Good luck,


answers from Los Angeles on

Perhaps he has outgrown his toys. I think it is AWESOME that your son is interested in READING and using his IMAGINATION!!! My boys who are 8 and 4 outgrew Thomas etc early on - now it seems they only enjoy playing with Legos (and other building toys), reading, imagining and well ok, video games.

There's nothing wrong with your son - he's growing up. Do things to foster his creativity and imagination.This is a good thing.

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