For many parents, purchasing toys and gifts for our children is simply another way to show our love. After all, there is nothing children like more than getting new things.

With toys, games and more continually being advertised to us, there’s a higher demand than ever. From on-trend products to educational play-sets, toys that spark imagination to those that entertain our children passively, there’s a sea of plastic out there in just about every family household. If you’re anything like most parents, you can quickly find yourself drowning in the number of toys your child has; and there’s no chance of putting it all away neatly.

When it comes to what our children play with, the average family has way too many toys. But what are the reasons behind this excess? Read on to find out more.

Buying stuff equals expressing love

One thing advertisers and marketers are very good at is achieving an emotional response to their products. This is what helps them to sell countless things by offering a specific lifestyle or benefit as a reward. Need a new oven? This one promotes a healthy family lifestyle. Are you looking to buy a car? This new model provides a way of driving you and your kids will love.

Toys are no different, and the overwhelming messaging parents receive about buying things for their children is that it’s a way to show your love and how much you care. According to The Parenting Junkie, the emotional attachment not only means that we’re compelled to buy those toys, but that we also want to keep them no matter what; whether the toy is no longer age-appropriate, or your child doesn’t even enjoy playing with it.

We want to fulfill all our children’s needs

There’s no doubt that modern parenting can be incredibly confusing. There’s so much conflicting information, guidance, and advice out there that knowing what’s right can be a challenge– and we don’t always get it right the first time anyway. According to a study by NAEYC, toys can be separated into three independent categories to help with development. These are:

  • Thinking, learning and problem solving
  • Social interaction
  • Creativity

However, parents often find themselves with evermore specific niches to fill their child’s toy box. From specific toys that promote sharing and ethics to those that provide a particular type of motor development, it’s practically impossible to tick every box that toy-makers advertise as required unless you have access to a full-size playroom.

While some toys will be better for creativity, such as those that require role-play and imagination, and some will be better for motor skills– toys that encourage movement– there’s no need to have a toy for every specified purpose. In all likelihood, your child will still pick the toy they enjoy the most regardless of its developmental value; and allowing for play is just as important as working on niche skills.

We follow the fads

We all know about the yearly Christmas fad with that must-have toy. Since toys have existed, there have always been fad products. From barbies to yo-yos, slime to hover-boards. As parents whose parents most likely did follow the fads of our time, we observe that trend with our children to ensure they can have the same items as their friends, and get those things that they want.

In many cases, it’s these fad items that end up at the bottom of the toy-box first. They’re wanted because of their status instead of their actual value as toys. We have way too many toys in our houses because we’ve been taught to follow fads and that newer is better, when in fact it’s often older or well-loved toys that get the most use. From your childhood dollhouse to old barbies or thrift-store toys, there’s no need to keep adding to your collection with more toys that have less value.

When it comes to the way we perceive toys as modern parents, it’s all too easy to see each piece of plastic as a low-cost way to entertain your child. But as that pile of toys grows, and goes un-played with, it’s far more valuable to teach your child to use what they have and to be creative with their existing toys instead of waiting for the next big thing.