Many clients ask me how they can get their kids to let go of toys or other items they don’t seem to be using anymore or have outgrown. Getting kids to look at the big picture beyond just the here and now is difficult but not impossible! Below is how I approach getting rid of toys.
- Teach by example-Kids will get used to letting go if they see you doing it
- Purge regularly-Before birthdays and holidays are a great time to do this. The kids can see new gifts on the horizon
- Reduce what comes in-Less stuff means less effort to manage it all. Suggest to family members monetary gifts for college or experiential gifts with them instead of toys
- Get the kids involved-They’re more willing than you think and they need to learn these skills
- One in, one out-Get the kids used to the idea that if they get something new, something has to be donated because a bedroom or toy room can only hold so much! There is a fabulous book about just this subject that is perfect for kids! Check out “Room Enough for Daisy” by D. Waldman and R. Feutl
- Donate-Teach them that they are fortunate and can donate to kids who don’t have as many toys. Many organizations take household items such as toys. The Toy Box Connection specializes in toys and is located in La Grange, IL, in suburban Chicago. They take the following: stuffed animals that haven’t been exposed to smoke or pets, all clean and working toys, complete puzzles and games, infant toys, video games and systems, books, sports equipment, musical instruments, kids’ bikes. Find out who else accepts toy donations here.
- Rewards – Provide an incentive for helping, preferably not a material item!
- Make it a race-Set a timer and see who can fill one donation bag first
- Play “Best Friends, Pals and Strangers”1-Instead of asking them what they’d like to get rid of, ask them to categorize each book, for example, in this way. This puts the positive focus of “shopping for favorites” on the process. Strangers get donated, pals might get rotated out for awhile or shared with a sibling and best friends stay in their room
- Honor collections and memories-Show them that 100 figures are not special but 5 thoughtfully displayed figures are noticed and honored
The “Best Friends” game worked wonderfully with my 9-year-old and he still prefers this method today. He’s able to assess the items simply and then let them go. To make it less emotional, I hold up the item and he categorizes it. Need more help than these tips? We’re here to help you, just call! 630-561-8018
Once you and your kids have reduced the toy count, read our next toy post to learn how to organize the toys and keep them that way: Taming Toys-How to Take Back Your House.
How do you get your kids to let go of toys?
1 Adapted from Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
Good advice and very timely, Jamie, as I just got a job that involves kids’ rooms. I like the “Best friends” game, how clever!