How Many Toys Do Children Need?

I can still just about remember my childhood days If I try hard enough. I recall that I liked to have adventures and preferred playing outside and that I had a few great toys but only enough to fit comfortably into a small cupboard. These days the kids seem to be buried under a mountain of toys and the increasingly commercial nature of Christmas, the sheer number of collectables and social pressure appear to be creating a feeding frenzy.

Short Term

I am left wondering if kids really need all this accumulated stuff and indeed if they really want it. If my younger relatives are anything to go by they probably don’t. Kids nag incessantly for the things they see advertised or which their little friends have just acquired. The parents relent and buy the things only for them to be cast aside after a day or two. The kids’ rooms are piled high with brightly coloured plastic and fluff and it would be impossible for them to remember everything they have let alone play with it regularly.


Long Haul

I think the main issue here is the huge volume of prescriptive toys which are heavily advertised generating demand but which invariably are soon cast aside. These are the toys with a defined nature and purpose like a character figure. These toys do not allow for the use of the imagination or the fun of experimentation. Spiderman is always Spiderman whereas more generic toys and those which require a creative input retain their appeal. Kids can turn these things into anything they wish and create whole worlds of adventure. This would explain why Lego has remained at the top of the tree for so long and why traditional wooden toys like building bricks always seem to get used. These types of toys are versatile and durable too and remain favourites for years and years.

Social Interaction

Kids don’t really need vast collections of toys they just need good ones with great versatility. They need the toys which fuel their imaginations and creative spirit. Experts also contend that non prescriptive toys are often better for sharing and so are important to a child’s social development. Kids must learn to interact, to work together and to share ideas and it is hard to do that when they are fighting over who gets the Batman car.


I don’t have kids but I do have cats. That might sound like an odd thing to say but bear with me on this! Most cat owners will tell you that no matter what exotic toys they buy for their animals the cats always reject them in favour of a game chasing a piece of foil or a sweet wrapper. Young people are undoubtedly the same. Why have a Dr Who figure when you can borrow Dad’s scarf and become Dr Who and why would you want memorabilia of your favourite boy band when you can use the pots and pans in the kitchen as instruments and form your own band? You can make anything and everything out of bricks like Lego and wooden blocks and a cardboard box makes for a fabulous den, ship, cave or whatever else it needs to be. Kids don’t need a mountain of fancy toys they just need a few great classics, some rubbish and a bit of imagination.


Article by Sally Stacey

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