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Forefront families by Sally Burgess;What to do with all those toys; www.forefrontfamilies.org

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                            by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

We went to the home of some friends who were grandparents some years ago and it was just a few days before Christmas. When we walked into the living room, there stood a huge and beautifully decorated tree. Under the tree and literally covering about 4ft in circumference on the floor, were piles upon piles of gifts. We couldn't believe it. We were totally speechless. We wondered what kids could do with just so much stuff in a whole year, let alone one magical day.

OK, so we can't stop grandparents and significant others' compulsive urge to go crazy with gift-giving at birthday and Christmas time, but how can we cope and manage the huge influx of toys?

Here are some preparatory suggestions:

  1. Sit down with your kids and decide which of their old toys they are willing to give away and which they wish to keep. Have your children go with you to give their old toys to some organization such as a playgroup. This will help them understand and enjoy the gift of giving.
  2. Put old toys the kids want to keep into a 'time capsule' where every three

months they can swap them out. Decide on, and keep to, a given number

of toys out at a time.

  1. Rather than kids getting overwhelmed by opening a large quantity of presents at one time, spread them out during the special day – some in the morning, some after lunch and some in the early evening – (the most boisterous and noisy gifts or games in the early part of the day so the kids are not too excited to sleep). By giving out a small number at a time, your children will have more chance to appreciate each present before rushing to open another.
  2. Teach your kids to read any accompanying cards or tags that are on the

gifts before opening the presents. If they are too young to read you could

do this until they are able to do it for themselves, thus establishing a

tradition of respect and gratitude.

General toy management suggestions:

  1. Only make available a certain number of toys at any given time so you

don't lose sight of the beds in your children's rooms.

  1. Show your kids how to look after their toys. They need to know how to

care for fragile toys and how to maintain mechanical or technological toys.

If you see your child mistreating a gift, put it away for some time and only

reintroduce it when the child agrees to care for it appropriately. For

example, if they leave a bicycle out in the front yard where it could be

stolen or they leave a skateboard in a place where someone could trip

over it and injure themselves, remove it for a period of time and tell your child why they must show more care and consideration. This will teach them to be responsible for their possessions.

  1. Provide storage space or bins where all of their current toys can be kept in

an orderly fashion and teach your kids from a very early age how to pick

up and store them. Once you have order established it needs to be your

kids' role, not yours, to keep their rooms and play areas tidy and to put all

their toys away.

If you have any comments or suggestions on toy management, feel free to contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org. Also, check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com

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