Please stop buying my kids toys

I know why people buy my children gifts- they care about them and they think that a gift will make them happy. I very much appreciate the gesture and the thought that goes into these gifts, but here is the honesty of the situation- they don’t need more stuff.

I came to this strong opinion after cleaning out yet another bag of toys that would become a donation. I like to have the kids help me but the process is usually so long that they lose interest and go play on their own. This particular time, when I was done with cleaning, I went to see what they were playing. No joke they were playing with a bundle of sticks they had collected outside. All of these wonderfully exciting toys and they are playing with sticks.

And I love this! They were using their imaginations and creating a complex world out of simple sticks. But if you are a parent like me who is tired of the endless donation bags, let us start moving in a new direction. Instead of buys gifts, here are a few suggestions that will result in better bonding and a healthier mental state.

Share with them that material goods do not create happiness. They can make things easier, but they do not directly relate to your level of happiness. Modeling this is the best way to teach children because they are little sponges soaking up everything in their environments. They are excellent at knowing when someone truly feels a certain way or that they are faking how they feel.

Buy them something useful/meaningful. If you are set on purchasing a little something for them, try to make it something that will be useful for the brains or body. A luggage tag for a trip, a book to read, blankets to snuggle up in, skiing (equipment, stickers for helmet, hand warmers), materials/gear for activities, little backpack to put nik-naks in, something they can wear, or something that is apart of special memory.

The most valuable gift of all is time. Time is bonding- even if you’re just sitting and talking or reading books. It forms memories and helps develop them as people. They get the opportunity to see how you handle situations, pick up your traits, ask you questions, and share their emotions. Objects only last years but their memory and feeling for you will last a lifetime.

My Challenge to you: Think about someone in your life that you care for and what your relationship is built on. Instead of buying material goods or expensive outings, find time to just be with them. Go on a hike, read a book together, play a board game, or anything else that you will have to interact with good eye contact and free flowing conversation.

Happy memory making friends!

– Jessie the Therapist


Photo by:

Autumn Goodman

Jessie Shepherd is a Mental Health Counselor and owner of Blue Clover Therapy in Utah. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Utah. Her focus is treating trauma, eating disorders and adjustment issues in adults, adolescents, children and their families. She utilizes Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Play Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Neurological Feedback.

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