Kids accumulate so many toys, animals and special treasures that they can quickly take over their room. As an adult, we know we need to get rid of items and can quickly discern which can be kept and which need to go away (be it donations or trash). However, for a child, this is different. All they own in this world are these items, so letting go of them can be very difficult.
There are some things you can do to help your children learn to let go of their toys and treasures, while not being too emotionally challenging for them.
Talk about space and growing up. Talk to your children about how too many toys will prevent them being able to play. You can talk about how they trip over items or step on toys and how that hurts them. At this same time, you can talk to your kids about how great it is to grow up and part of that is learning to let go of those toys they no longer play with or need.
Move items to a temporary home before getting rid of them. If your child is not yet ready to part with items, you can give them a temporary home, outside of the bedroom. Have your child help decide which items they want to try to get rid of. It can be difficult for them as getting rid of toys means they are growing up, and they may still want to cling to them so they can stay your little boy or girl.
This summer, we took around 20 stuffed animals out of our kids’ rooms. We placed them in a plastic bag and put them in the basement. This was done around 8 weeks ago and our kids have yet to ask for any of those items.
If they do not look for them after 6 or more months, we get rid of them. We usually just do another check with our kids to make sure they don’t want one of them back and usually, all of them can leave. Once in a while one or two make it back into their room, but keeping 2 out of 20 is definitely a step in the right direction.
Allow your kids to sell their own items. Our daughter recently outgrew many of her LEGO sets. She and I worked together to take photos and count out all pieces to ensure the sets were complete. We then listed them for sale on Amazon and she was able to keep the profits. She was able to clean out items from her room and turned it into a profit – which helped her want to get rid of even more items.
You could also even allow them to sell those items at a yard sale or other method. Your child is in complete control of the items leaving – and gets to turn their toy into money, which they can use towards other items they may want.
Let them select the charity (teaching empathy). Teaching your children about how other kids may not have toys and clothes helps them learn empathy. They can relate to another child their own age not having items like they do. An easy way to help instill this value is to allow your child to select the charity where you will make your donation. You can research local organizations and your child can decide where the donation will go.
When they get a say, they will feel that they are making a difference and are in control of the items leaving the house (rather than mom or dad telling them what to do). They may even surprise you by getting rid of items you didn’t think you’d ever see leave their bedroom.
Do a monthly swap. When our kids were younger, we would take some of their toys and keep them in a box in the basement. Every 2 or 3 months, I would clean their rooms and take out the old toys and put new ones in their place. This kept toys new and fresh and kept them entertained. This allowed me to also weed through the toys I knew were trash, find broken items and just declutter their rooms. This also helps your child because the toys are not leaving completely, just going a way for a while. You may even find that you don’t need to put the toys back into their room as they have since lost interest.
Whatever you do, don’t force your child to get rid of items. They will let go of items in due time – and perhaps even sooner than you may be ready for them to do so. Helping teach your child about letting go of items is a valuable lesson, which will help them later in life.