Toys or No Toys?

Updated on April 15, 2010
M.H. asks from Marquette, MI
14 answers

My DH and I both read a book called Anastasia. He has now decided it is a bad idea to give children toys. It encourages materialism and consumerism and is unnecessary to the development of children. I disagreed with this point in the book. Too many toys is bad for imagination and all of the above, but children do need things to figure out and explore and aid in learning and imagination. Any thoughts on this subject?

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So What Happened?

We had a discussion today and agreed that some toys would be ok. Toys that encourage imagination, outdoor play and motor skills (like legos), would be ok. We are going to restrict TV to cut back on the commercials and the I wants. We already have two bookshelves that are for kids books only. In our house books are not considered "toys" they are necessary. Same goes for craft and drawing. The disagreement came because my family has started buying action figures and electronics for the kids. Before I could communicate to my family restrictions, we needed to come to an agreement between the two of us and have rational reasons why. Thank you everyone for your help and support with this. I truly appreciate it.

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answers from Saginaw on

Unless you are willing to be the child's only entertainment, kids need toys of some kind. Most toys help children develop imagination, not hinder.

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answers from Gainesville on

I really hope you are kidding! Of course you don't want a house over-flowing with toys but toys spark imagination, encourages creative thinking, fosters learning and most importantly are just plain fun. Those are all things that are essential to a child's growth and development. Not every toy and every experience needs to be solely based on learning. Yes, you need that and it's crucial but fun and play are just as crucial.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I don't give my son every crappy piece of plastic garbage that comes out as a toy, but we choose toys we feel he will enjoy and be stimulating for creative play. We do tend to go overboard on the Legos, but you couldn't look at his playroom and say he owns the contents of an entire toy store. If your DH is concerned about materialism and consumerism, he would do better to limit TV time. The constant commercials tend to encourage the 'give me, get me, buy me' attitude. There are certain catalogs/web sites I like for their creative well thought out toys. Here are a few:

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answers from Kansas City on

i think it's your family and you have a right to do what you want. but i think it's unrealistic and cruel to expect your kids never to have toys - not because kids "must" have toys, but because there will always be "uncle joe" or "grandma mabel" who delights in giving the kids a little something. whether it's a holiday or just because they don't get to see them would you handle that? take that away from the relatives by saying ahead of time, "sorry, don't get our kids toys, we don't approve." or by taking them away later once you've gotten home, and upsetting your kids? it's not "all" about commercialism and consumerism. sometimes it's just about love and joy. i would agree if you decided you don't want them to have the big commercial name brand toys, the buzz lightyears and the disney princesses...but i think anything in moderation is okay as long as it's not blown out of proportion. moderation is the key to everything in my opinion.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

You hit the nail on the head. TOO MANY toys are the problem. See if you can find a reasonable compromise.

Its hard, my family and the inlaws get tons of things for my daughters, and thankfully they're respectful when I've asked them to cut back, but its hard because people LOVE to see the excitement on a kids face by a new toy. Its crazy how many stuffed animals they have, a whole toy chest full, that are not even being played with.

I've found my girls are not content with more then one toy out at a time. So it helps to put some away for a while and swap out now and then. Also look for good quality toys that encourage imagination, like legos, play dough, play house, dolls with a few outfits, balls, etc... Draw the line on toys that require batteries or any form of video games.

Best wishes!



answers from Detroit on

My husband and I are taking the educational only route. We did buy a toy to help our little guy learn to walk, but every other toy we have is educational and challenging. Blocks, shapes, legos, stackers, xylophone. Plus, his favorite toy is a wood spoon - he sees momma cooking every meal, and he just wants to use what I use. We have a lot of fun interacting and learning together. We purchased most of the items at garage sales and the salvation army, unless they were a gift. We also go outside a lot to learn about nature. The one exception, he has a stuffed zebra that he LOVES and sleeps with every night. I am putting together a "wish list" of educational and interactive toys for his birthday so we don't end up with a bunch of junk!



answers from Benton Harbor on

DH? Sorry...I'm ignorant to what that means, but perhaps you two could just discuss some things that might aid in your child's development and learning (of course anything you give your child they will play with like a toy...speaking as a mom who has a house full of toys and my boy finds a simple cardboard box and a spoon and pot most entertaining most days hehe).

I've often worried that my son gets too much (he is the first grandchild on both sides if that explains anything), usually it is not us (his parents) buying him loads of things, but relatives and friends of the family, so to combat that every year before his birthday or Christmas I have him help me figure out which toys he would like to give away to children who don't have any toys, last year we gave two huge garbage bags full it is possible to find ways to teach your child to not be materialistic and consumeristic without rejecting a gift from a friend or relative. However, perhaps you could encourage those around you to keep gifts more to books and educational type things.

And don't worry about your child's development even if they don't have many toys, you are the most important thing in their life which will aid in their learning and imagination :)



answers from Detroit on

Everything in moderation. Yes, children today have far too many toys than they know what to do with, but there are educational toys that aid in learning.



answers from Detroit on

I do not think you want to do anything that will cause your children to look back with pain and resentment. They have to live in this world. They will value what you value in the end. As long as you don't overdo it, you'll be fine. I'd have your hubby read something to balance this. Anyway, do not let him be a tyrant about this or anything else. Your motherly instincts should never be discounted! Stay strong!



answers from Detroit on

I think even the "commercial" Disney toys have value. My son loves Toy Story and has Buzz and Woody, and miniatures of other characters. It is so fun to play with him with these toys. He makes up all kinds of stories and we can really see his imagination in the play.

I would agree that you don't want to go overboard and get too many toys, but kids definitely need some toys.

Some of our favorites: kitchen set with pots, pans, utensils and some food; legos; lincoln logs; small stuffed animals and figurines; baby dolls; small cars; doll house; coloring books and crayons; books; playdough; finger paints; sidewalk chalk.

We have a boy and a girl and none of these toys is exclusive to just the boy or the girl. Our son loves to play with the doll house (of course his play is very different from our daughter's, which is where fights start when they play with it together).

Our kids love to read and we spend a lot of time every day reading with them. The only thing about legos and lincoln logs is the tons of small pieces; they end up all over the house!

Our kids currently have more toys that I would like (my parents, siblings, and friends buy a lot for them), but they don't get every toy they want and they do play with all of the ones they have. And the neat thing is they don't always play with the toys in the ways that you would think. Kids' imaginations are really fantastic.



answers from Cincinnati on

As a person who plays with kids for a living, I would say that toys are important to a degree. Play works on cognitive skills (e.g. problem solving), learn property of objects (e.g. by banging they learn what is hard/soft, size of objects, etc), social skills (e.g. turn taking, following game rules, sharing, etc), physical skills (e.g. fine motor skills such as manipulation, use of 2 hands together, etc), and many other skills. That being said many toys out there are horrible - they are cheap, junky, electronic and have no creativity challenges (used one way only). I LOVE the oldie but goodies (depending on the age of the child) - Lincoln Logs, Legos, classic board games, etc. For infants rattles/ manipulative toys (e.g. shape sorter, stacking cups, etc) are important for wrist rotation, hand skill development (isolating fingers, grasp patterns, etc).

So Yes toys are important BUT it is not important to get every toy. Compromise. My sister-in-law and husband went through the same conversation you are when the twins were born. Solution: On holidays books are the primary gift plus 1-2 special well made toys (from the parents NOT others).

Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

Remind him that all toys contribute to role playing and creativity for children, even video games (which I am totally against) can be argued to have some benefit.

I encourage my children to play with toys that are fairly gender neutral, or make both "girl" and "boy" toys available.

Make sure your husband is available to play with the toys and your kids which will also encourage imagination.

Sandboxes are wonderful places to create and imagine. Sticks make awesome weedwackers and dry sponges are cars.

I wouldn't provide every toy out there to your child, but toys are merely a vehicle in which to encourage play (so so so important to the development of your child). They don't have to be new, get them used or make them and that will cut back on his fear of consumerism.

They also can go toy free during parts of the day. Take a walk or a bike ride. There are so many ways for your kids to play without toys. But, allowing your children to play with carefully chosen, safe toys and allowing them to self-direct and self-talk is of utmost importance to their development.

We do tread a fine line between consumerism and materialism and toys. Our holidays and birthdays are a toy free zone, except for immediate family members. We encourage books and buy lots of used toys.

I don't know how old your kids are....they can certainly be involved in this dialogue.

Good luck.



answers from Topeka on

I'am selective when it comes to toy's these character toy's that come out everytime a new movie hits the theater I don't buy into them.All these toy's need batteries for the most part I do replace them if needed but not for all.Fisher Price has Imaginext toys that most don't need batteries my son has a few of them and we have bought extra pieces for them he loves them they are great for imaganative play etc.the wooden toys are also good choice they use motor skills/fine motor skills which children need to learn ealy in their life.Yes there is too many toys we have 3 kids and I often find myself throwing them out if they are broken not played with or lil tinker toys from parties or the treasure box from the dentist office.We love Hot Wheels in our house they get to playing and don't stop.My daughters love My Little Pony baby dolls purses just the small inexpensive things will get their imagination flowing I have several expensive toys that have batteries and are nice but for some reason my kids don't play with them they go for the ones that are trucks no batteries swing set sand box/toys coloring books crayons pens markers crafts.Well to sum it up all is good in moderation toys TV candy what ever it is if it somehow is bad for us to have it all moderation seems to be the leveling out point



answers from Raleigh on Christmas( before my husband and I were married) we watched his sister's kids open million toys and vowed that when we have kids they will have less than 10 toys (period) Well our kids are now 5 and 3 and they have "million" toys. Most of them were bought at the yard sales/ thrift stores/craigslist so I do not feel bad. WE have so many kids come over that they all get played with. I think it mainly my problem though whenever i see something fun I get it. Growing up in the communist country we had very little toys......I guess I did not play enough so I am catching up now:)

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