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I think ds has too many toys and is overwhelmed by choice - opinions please!

(17 Posts)
Abelia Tue 31-May-11 21:54:00

ds is 4, an only child and therefore simply has to play on his own a fair bit - but is hopeless at doing so and very reluctant to get stuck into anything. TV is his most favourite thing blush, followed by doing letters and numbers or reading books (me reading books to him).

I am lucky to have many generous friends and family and he has accumulated a lot of stuff. I have noticed that when we visit grandparents, who have only a few good toys, he will play for ages with one or two things. The problem I have is that I don't see that he has anything unnecessary - eg if you think in developmental terms such as fine and gross motor development, mental skills, role play, construction, creativity/ crafts, all bases are covered.

He has lots of games and puzzles. A toy toolbench and lots of screws / nails / tools etc. Toy kitchen and all the paraphenalia that goes with that. Tons of stuff for drawing and painting with. Musical instruments, a farm and animals, garage and cars. Marble run, doctor's kit, play food, letters / alphabet stuff. Cash register. Train track. Balls, bike, scooter, outdoor things like sandpit, buckets, etc. Lego. Happyland. A few electronic toys (not nintendo/ps, much more basic). Marbles. Books galore. This sounds like an immense pile, but it is all in baskets stacked on low shelves in the living room or in his bedroom.

Is this just too much? Is he so swamped with options that he doesn't know where to begin? I have already put the farm and the garage and a few of the games away. Should I just go for the drastic option, literally take 90% away and rotate on a daily / weekly / whenever basis? Or should I be much more directional about sitting him down with something? Usually if I do this, I have to stay with him the whole time otherwise he loses interest v quickly.

tifflins Tue 31-May-11 22:25:51

hmmm tricky, am in similar sitation myself. do you go out alot? i always find my toddler plays much more happily with his toys at home if we have been out a lot doing physical things. if your son is home alot it may be that he is bored of all his toys? definately do the whole ' putting toys away for a month or two' thing - works for us, my son is always so delighted to see his old 'new' toys again. could you also try setting him up on a game (eg trains) and then leaving him to get on with it himself for a bit. my son plays for half an hour at the absolute most with any one toy, then needs to move on to the next. bloody exhausting for me, but thats just the way it is i guess. good luck!

bluebobbin Tue 31-May-11 22:29:34

You say that it is all in baskets. Can he actually see the toys properly?

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 31-May-11 22:40:06

put half of them in the loft for a few weeks, then bring them down. He will be thrilled with all his new toys!

Abelia Tue 31-May-11 22:59:54

thanks for answers! He can see what's in the baskets, all very accessible.

We go out lots - I am fab at outings and interesting trips but less good at being at home (hence over reliance on TV and the fading hope that he will entertain himself with the vast array of toys on offer).

Whenever I set him up with a game or trains or something he will manage a few mins before coming to find me and demanding I play too, or that he wants the TV instead. I will get cracking on a temporary clear out and see what effect that has.

SuchProspects Tue 31-May-11 23:49:21

I put half my kids' toys away and swap them over every two weeks or so. Really seems to help get them into things. I don't think it's so much that they have too much choice as that they like the novelty of things they haven't seen around for a while. Don't know if it's the same for a 5 year old but would think it's worth a go.

pipkin35 Wed 01-Jun-11 10:41:19

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/oct/23/annalisa-barbieri-problem-solved

This is such an interesting article. Made me feel better about a PFB 3.6 yr old who doesn't 'play' by himself. See what you think.

Is he at any nursery/pre-school setting at all?
Is he getting more interested in imaginary/fantasy play and not just 'actual' toys IYKWIM, and wants your input maybe?

Sometimes my DS likes me to suggest a toy, think he has issues choosing from the vast array, but I have to play with him the whole time - not easy at all with demanding tantrum throwing 2 yr old DD...

AmazingBouncingFerret Wed 01-Jun-11 10:47:14

Sounds about the same as what my DS (same age) has got.
Do you play with the toys with him? For example DS has a big tower of doom that he wont play with alone but would happily play with it if someone is playing with him, same goes for the kitchen/cash register alot of the toys you mention are good for learning social interaction, he cant do that and play well with them if he is playing alone.
Not judging you I promise, I know it's hard to sit and play when there is a thousand other things to be done like mumsnet grin Can you not start inviting over friends for the dreaded playdates?

Carrotsandcelery Wed 01-Jun-11 10:58:55

When my dcs were younger we rotated toys. I put about 3/4 of their stuff up in the loft and changed it around once they lost interest in what they had been left with.

I also felt they had a lot and were overwhelmed by the choice available.

I does improve how they play as there aren't so many things to move onto or distract themselves with.

Another thing that works is setting up a toy when they are busy doing something else so that when they first see it it is all set up and ready to go. Sometimes by the time it is set up they have lost interest whereas if they can play straight away they play on for ages.

Sometimes they need the play modelled for them, eg you play for a while to show them how to do it, and then they will play by themselves.

Sometimes they will play well if you are in the same room even if you are doing something else.

Sometimes they want to do what you are doing - so give them a duster if you are dusting or a bowl with something safe in it and a spoon etc if you are cooking.

We have made tv something that they earn. It has its place - most of us like to relax infront of the tv now and again and some programmes do teach a lot - but it is not great all the time.

Feel free to join this thread here

I am not suggesting that you don't play with him and I know that your aim is to get him to play alone but maybe it will help all the same.

greencolorpack Wed 01-Jun-11 11:07:10

I would put it all in binbags and hide it out of sight, like in the garage and see what he asks for/misses. Chances are he won't. And you will have a tidy house and a contented child! And then drop it all off at the charity shop/recycling bin. Make sure he doesn't see it when you chuck it, that's when they suddenly get all sentimental.

I used to hate all the clutter that goes with small children. I waged a war of attrition with the big Lego bricks - if I found it in the wrong place it went in the bin. I know that's shocking and all but MIL used to run a second hand shop and she gave us loads and loads and loads and loads of free second hand stuff. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

I've noticed like you that children, if they go to sparse houses, friend's houses without children or grandparent's houses, they would find one interesting thing there and play with it for ages.

I say chuck it all and hoover your house and bask in the glow of tidiness! Your ds will stop being overwhelmed.

Abelia Wed 01-Jun-11 11:50:52

thanks again for all the advice, I appreciate all of it. I don't play with him enough in terms of imaginary stuff as I find it deadly dull. But I realise he needs help to play, he wanted his farm set up this morning and then had not a clue what to do with it. I started off with a bit of mucking about with the animals which he loved, but he wouldn't do it on his own.

he is at preschool for his 15 hours and will thrive at school I know. But I admit I am dreading the summer holiday! We have friends round to play but he often then wants to be by himself and not interact! Frustrating. He takes ages to warm up as it were so is all ready to join in just as we have to leave / guests have to go. Argh.

ANyway got to go as he is currently preparing a trap in the garden for me to fall into... smile!! Hooray for some independent play!

HumphreyCobbler Wed 01-Jun-11 11:53:27

I take most away and just bring out one basket. Sometimes I set stuff up as I would in the classroom. It helps to keep their interest up. It is a godsend when clearing up at the end of the day too.

greencolorpack Wed 01-Jun-11 11:56:22

If play is hard for him on his own, why not make him your helper and let him do housework with you? It's practical and it might be more fun for him than being on his own. Not chopping with a whacking great knife or anything, but easy stuff. You can get some kitchen utensils that are child-friendly and not dangerous. It might make the housework more fun for you, too.

homeboys Wed 01-Jun-11 13:31:33

Message withdrawn

PeppaPigandGeorge Wed 01-Jun-11 14:20:14

I've just removed most of my 3 year old's toys from the bedroom and packed them away downstairs so I have to get them out for her. I had also reached the point where she was overwhelmed so couldn't really play with anything. We're still in the process of doing it. Agree with homeboys about having one type of each toy out. I've boxed ours up by type - so we now have music / songtime box, a little world box, a craft box, educational / alphabet box etc etc. It really helps and I am starting to do what humphrey suggests - the class room set up. We even do story time on the mat!! I also find this helps with having more than one - it allows me to play with them both. I am even getting rid of the ELC kitchen and have got a smaller one that can be stored away more easily.

PeppaPigandGeorge Wed 01-Jun-11 14:24:40

I 've also just looked at the link in pipkin's post - I really like the coloured sand timer idea in the article and am just off to order one on Amazon! So when you say I'm just going to.... for 2 minutes, they have something tangible to get an idea of how long that is - i.e. when the sand runs out.

AlaskaHQ Wed 01-Jun-11 15:23:10

I do one good "play" session each day and plan in advance what we might do. Eg, "right today we are going to get out the model farm", or "trainset", or "lego". And play with him (DS 4.5) for a good 20 minutes plus with it ... he then gets into it, and will keep playing on his own, but needed someone to motivate him first.

If I didn't do that, I am pretty sure that half of our fab toy collection would never be played with.

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