"Add years to life and life to years."
I didn't write that statement and I couldn't find the person who did, but I read it for the first time in a blog written by Dr. David Katz, a specialist in Preventive Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine, with particular expertise in nutrition. I was fascinated by it because it certainly rings true. And although it applies to a healthy lifestyle and life in general, I'd like to borrow that statement and use it to refer to the life of toys.
I often heard parents saying, "Ah, her toys don't even last a year" or "Wait a month and his toys lose a limb or two and I don't have a choice but to discard them". There is an element of truth to these statements. However, there are also ways to increase the life of toys, and that's what this article is all about.
Ways to increase the life of toys:
1. Choose the appropriate toys for your child.
Children are captivated by everything they see. Take them to a toy store, and if allowed to take anything they want, you would probably end up hiring a mini-van for all the toys that they want to take home. So don't just give in to what they ask for. You are the ultimate decision-maker even though you are giving them the freedom to choose the toys they like. Be reasonable and explain to them the reasons why some toys aren't for them, and choose judiciously.
But why is it important to choose toys that are curated for a particular age group? One answer is that kids are full of energy. They need toys that push their boundaries and keep up with their strength while stimulating their senses and imagination.
Surely, choosing sturdy toys is one of the many keys that unlock the secrets to increasing the life of toys.
2. Lead by example.
We are monkeys! I'm sure you've heard that statement. I have. Countless times!
Monkeys learn by copying other members of the group. And so are we, especially children, for they love to do what others do. They imitate almost everything they see and hear. So when you start being careful with things around you and ask them to do the same with their toys, they will certainly make it a habit. Arrange and organize their toys yourself, and do it in front of them. Ask them to lend you a hand. Explain to them the reasons why you arrange their toys in the manner that you do. This way, they remember things by association.
3. Organize toys.
Assign a space in your room or cupboard for toys and ensure that your child knows what it is for. Keep a box for the loose parts of the toys as well. This way, your little one learns to pick up pieces after their play, which encourages neatness and cleanliness.
4. Share the load.
Just like leading by example, sharing the load is one of the best ways to teach your child the act of sharing the burden of cleaning the scattered toys.
5. Play one toy at a time.
Playing with a few different toys at a time almost always results in a mess from parts getting mixed up to creating a bad habit for your child. Instead, encourage your kid to take out a toy and play with it one at a time. Make them choose which one they would like to play first and get on with it. Once that is done, have them pack the toy and place it back where they were before. Only then they are allowed to play with another set of toys. A few repetitions of 'unpacking and packing' and, believe me, you won't need to instruct your child to do this every time.
6. Appreciate the efforts made.
We thrive on appreciation. We feel good getting one. Imagine when a child receives the recognition they deserve? It would surely boost their good behaviour, won't it? So give them cuddles, hugs or kisses. Read them their favourite book before bedtime. Play with them. Allow them to list the things they want to do in exchange for creating a good habit. The ideas can be endless. Just remember that giving them your time and undivided attention works magic in their overall personality development.
How children treat their toys is also a reflection of their upbringing. So basically, it all boils down to how you, as a parent, take part in this process. And I am sure you have some pretty excellent ideas on how to do just that.
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