Santa delivered as promised — now what to do with all of those toys? Parents often find themselves asking this question as the holidays come to a close and kids are left with an abundance of new toys. Here are some quick tips to assist with all of the fun that came from the holidays.
1. Provide structure
You can establish — or reinforce — a rule that in order to use their new toys, your children need to complete their chores and/or do their homework first. Good behavior followed by a reward is a great concept to teach your children early in their lives. The more enjoyable the toy, the more motivating it will be for them to complete a task. For example, if your child wants to play on his or her iPad, remind them that all reading for school has to be completed before screen time.
2. Monitor, monitor, monitor
Parents often get overwhelmed by the kinds of toys and games popular with kids. They worry about how violent the video game is or what kinds of themes or images come up in certain movies or television shows. Here’s a tip for dealing with this unease: It is more important for parents to monitor the content than completely restrict it. It is always a possibility that the very thing you shield your child from becomes the one thing they play with at a friend’s house. Monitoring their use of toys and media allows you to provide input and help them navigate appropriate usage.
3. You’re the boss
Did someone give your children something that you feel is inappropriate or not in line with your parenting philosophy? This could be a video game that it too violent, a doll that affects self-esteem (i.e., a scantily clad Barbie doll) or a game that has too many pieces and could be a choking hazard for little ones. Feel free to use your discretion in eliminating toys that don’t fit with your family. If your gut tells you something isn’t right, go with it.
4. Be a minimalist
Do you have an embarrassment of riches on your hands? Too many toys and games to count? Encourage your children to donate some of their bounty to other children — and remind them that needy children do not only exist during the holidays, but all year round. You could sit down as a family and choose a handful of toys that your children would be happy giving to someone else, and discuss how to be generous during the rest of the year when there aren’t presents to give away. You can always reward their generosity with a treat like ice cream or a fun group activity like ice skating or sledding.
For more parenting tips, please visit me at childmind.org.