Is the toy box overflowing? Your toddler's closet jammed? Your home slowly turning into a sea of plastic?
Many times, having too many toys isn't the sign of a spoiled child, but rather the result of well-intentioned giving gone too far. As parents, we want the very best for our children. We easily justify the equation "more + more = the best for my child." But more is not always better.
Consider a chocolate chip cookie: too many chips will make the cookie crumble even before your toddler grabs it. A good baker measures ingredients.
Parenting also requires a balance. We need to ask, "How much is too much?" As you answer that question, think about these points:
Toddlers need things.
The most recent brain research documents what parents already knew: toddlers learn from all kinds of stimulation. They need to touch things, turn them over, feel them, tug on them, and yes, even chew on them.
Look for toys and activities that truly stimulate your child. In spite of what toy manufacturers advertise, toddlers don't need expensive playthings. Empty margarine containers with lids, a plastic bucket and shovel and cardboard boxes from the grocery store can be favorites.
Toddlers need people.
While young children thrive on creative play, they also need thoughtful, consistent care givers who will share a lap, a smile and a prayer. Toddlers need people who will describe what's going on, set and maintain consistent limits, and say, "I love you." No shiny red truck or expensive doll will ever substitute for the love you give your child.1