It’s a headache most parents will get at some point. You buy your child this amazing new toy. Maybe it’s even something they’ve been on about for ages. They take one look at it and either abandon it completely, or play with it for only five minutes. Then they are off to something else, leaving you feeling a bit frustrated.
But are there ways to stop kids from getting bored with their toys? The answer is yes and here are five examples.
Why kids might get bored with their toys so quickly
Before diving into those tips, let’s take a moment to consider why kids get bored so quickly with toys. There are three common reasons:
Reason #1: Maybe it is too far ahead of their development level.
A toy might seem perfect for them, or you might see it being advertised as a great toy. However, once they start playing with it, you realize it is too far ahead of their development level. This will cause them to abandon it, because they just don’t get how to enjoy it.
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Reason #2: Something else has caught their attention (like the cardboard box the toy came in!).
Have you ever spent good money on what you thought was a great toy, only to find that your toddler is more interested in the box or the wrapper? A toy is a fascinating thing, but so is the cardboard box it came in! Sometimes they get sidetracked by something else, relating to the toy. It’s also possible that they just aren’t ready to play with the new item yet.
Reason #3: They are more interested in what is going on around them.
Ever tried using a toy to keep them occupied while you are doing something (that seems boring to you – like folding laundry or sweeping the floor)? Nine times out of ten, it probably didn’t work.
I’ll bet that for your toddler, that broom or the laundry was more interesting than the new flashy expensive toy! That’s because it’s what YOU are doing. Your toddler wants to be in the middle of where the “action” is.
How to stop kids from getting bored with their toys
That doesn’t mean you should admit defeat if they don’t play with new toys or get bored quickly. Here are five ways to try to reengage them and get them into that new item.
- Show them how to combine the new toy with other objects (or with another toy they love).
For the kid who is still engrossed with another toy, show them how the two things could go together. Even if in our adult minds, they don’t! The key is to show the new toy as connected to their favorite.
Your child may also do this on his own. If this happens, you don’t need to stop him. This is where his creativity comes in! Sometimes, we read that we should train a child to pack a way a toy properly before getting another one. I tried doing this with my child, and I found that he enjoyed combining his toys. He would play with the peg people and the blocks together. He also pretended that the blocks were “rocks” in a construction truck. There is no limit to a young child’s imagination!
- Don’t be too strict about the toy being used ‘properly’ as long as it is used safely.
As long as there’s nothing dangerous in what they are doing, let them play with the toy as they see fit. That includes incorporating the cardboard box into the games too. The best play is creative and versatile.
You may read a lot on the internet about using open-ended toys, and avoiding toys that have “only one function”. An example would be toys that have buttons to push. It is true that there are definite benefits to using open ended toys, and it would be great to have these.
However, it is not just the toy, but how it is used. Any toy can be used in multiple ways. So your child received a toy giraffe with musical buttons that light up? Don’t dismiss this as a toy that “kills your child’s creativity”! Remove the batteries and pretend it is a talking giraffe. Put in in a “zoo” – a cardboard box with a stuffed animal and a few peg people. The possibilities are endless.
- Make the toy a part of a story with them so it is more interesting.
Sometimes you need to inspire them to play with a toy by making it part of a story. This helps them imagine how to play with it and engages them. Before you know it, they’ll be making up their own stories too. A great bonus of this is you also develop their language skills. At this age, the best learning comes through play, and this is a fun way to do it.
- Play with the toy yourself and then involve them.
Similarly, if you ‘play’ with the toy and then bring them into what you are doing, you can show them the joy of the new item.
Feeling stuck thinking of how to do this? Download this FREE guide to toddler activities for ideas to get you started!
- Think about reducing the number of available toys so they don’t bounce around as quickly.
While you don’t want to throw anything out, removing some options from sight can also help them stay focused on something. Young kids can get overwhelmed when there are too many options. If there’s nothing else to grab their attention, they often won’t think to bounce to a different toy.
Don’t get stressed about it!
Finally, it is important not to get stressed about it when your kid either ignores a toy or gets bored with it in no time. It is natural for them to play with different things. So use the tips above.
You can also put the toy to one side for a while. Keep it hidden in the meantime. Put it out of “toy rotation”. I can’t count the number of times that my toddler didn’t mind a toy before, then when he saw it again a month or two later, it suddenly became his favorite toy.
If all else fails, you can pass it on to another child who has shown interest in it or to a charitable organization that accepts used toys.