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Toddler playing with blocks

Less is more

20 January 2022 | State Library of Queensland

You thought your kids already had a lot of toys, now thanks to Santa they have even more! Here are some ideas for what to do if your kids have too many toys, and why it can be an issue.  

Play is how children learn. Through playing, children better understand their world, gain social, emotional and communication skills as well as problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Through play children get to practise skills and conversations over and over again, and toys can play a role in this learning. So why do too many toys become an issue?  

You know that feeling when you’re trying to get something done but there's stuff everywhere and it’s hard to concentrate? Well, the same thing happens for kids and toys. Cluttered play spaces can feel overwhelming, making it difficult for kids to choose, focus and go deep into their play. This can result in tantrums or saying things like “I’m bored” or “can I watch something?”

Sound familiar? Read on for a few ideas on how to tackle this issue (a little tip - it’s probably best done when the children aren’t around). 


Start by getting rid of anything broken or with missing parts. Next, identify the toys that your child has outgrown or has too many of. You can give these to a charity shop or a younger child as a gift. Having less toys that are well organised leads to a calmer environment which reduces overstimulation in children, and contributes to better behavioural regulation


Once you have done some culling, try putting some toys away for a while. At first you may feel guilty taking them away, but you might be pleasantly surprised at your child's reaction. Your child can now focus on the fewer toys that are left and enjoy the benefits of longer and more involved play. As a bonus, after a few weeks you can rotate the toys and it will feel like Christmas all over again.  

Use what you have 

If too many toys aren’t a problem for you or you’re worried that you don’t have enough, remember open ended play is best. Household items can make great ‘toys’ - sheets for cubbies, old cereal boxes to create towns, creatures, or costumes, grown up clothes for dress ups, sticks and seed pods to make patterns or head to the kitchen for some role play or messy play.  

Play together 

Remember, your child loves playing with you more than any toy, so get down and play together.  Your child will benefit from these little interactions with you, so remember to talk, read, sing and play every day. 


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