Children are being spoilt with too many toys, parenting experts warn
CHILDREN are being spoilt with too many toys, parenting experts warn.
- Karen Collier
- From: Herald Sun
- December 16, 2009 12:00AM
Leading psychologists say well-meaning mums and dads are breeding a handout mentality in kids as young as three.
They say the mountain of toys can stifle creativity and lead to children missing out on learning important values.
Too many parents are caught up in the myth that materialism buys happiness, clinical psychologist Renee Mill said.
"It is far more important for children to feel related to, loved and remembered than overloaded with toys," Ms Mill said.
Research shows some parents are buying toys all year round to reward better school performance and as bribes for good behaviour.
Victorians plan to spend an average $555 a household on toys and games this Christmas, and are prepared to shell out up to $306 on a single item.
Just over half said they were cutting their spending.
Half of the parents quizzed for the Brand Management survey, commissioned by Bankwest, confessed they'd bought toys in an effort to improve behaviour.
One in 10 have also used toys to try to boost children's performance at sport, stop them crying or because a child asks for them.
Ms Mill said adults who plunged into deep debt because of toy binges set a poor example.
They should focus on instilling basic values in children such as patience, striving for excellence and being neat and orderly without automatically expecting a toy for motivation.
"You want children to grow into adults who show initiative and independence rather than only working for a cheque at the end of the week," she said.
Experts suggest alternative rewards such as spending quality family time playing at the park, bike riding, or a trip to the movies.
The Toy Treasure Trove national online survey of 500 parents found half buy toys throughout the year.
Victorian adults said their children were sitting on a stockpile of toys worth an average $2043.
Ms Mill said it could be good for the self-esteem of adults and children to go it alone as a family rather than buying what every other kid on the block demanded and got.
Psychologist Dr Janet Hall agreed too many parents were falling into a trap of keeping up - or ahead - of others.
"If you keep buying, kids will keep expecting and asking," Dr Hall said.