It’s a bit of a conundrum. We love our children so we want to make them happy. We also want them to have every opportunity in life. So, what do we do? We buy them so many toys, our rubbish removal bins are constantly overflowing with cheap plastic toys that our children break and or discard within weeks, sometimes hours, of first getting them! Then, when we look at these overflowing bins, we feel a pang of guilt about sending so much plastic and packaging into the landfills.
Not only is this a rubbish removal a problem, it’s an ongoing moral problem. Some parents truly wrestle with their conscience on this issue. They may ask themselves questions like, “Are we doing the right thing buying our children all these toys or are we contributing to the downfall of our planet that they and their descendants will inherit?”
A German Research Study May Help Solve This Moral Crisis
In 1999, German researchers, Rainer Strick and Elke Schubert, interested in how unhealthy habits like addiction begin in childhood, convinced nursery schools in Germany to conduct a harmless experiment. The schools were asked to remove all toys from certain classrooms for a period of three months. The teachers were still there to monitor for safety but the idea was to see what the children would do without any toys and only minimual direction from the teachers. The results of this experiment were fascinating and will give parents plenty of good reasons to reduce the toys relegated to their rubbish removal bins.
The only items left in the nursery school rooms were blankets, chairs, and tables. On the first day, the children were understandably confused. For a few hours, they basically sat and starred at each other not knowing what to do. However, as their imaginations were allowed to run wild, they very quickly started creating their own games which became more elaborate as time went by. They also got to know their classmates much better and began putting on shows to entertain one another. They also did a lot of pretend play. For example, they’d pretend they were animals in a zoo or they’d pretend they were operating a train. They’d also “build forts” with the chairs and tables.
After the three month period was over, the teachers compared notes. They found that the children who had been “deprived” of their toys, were better able to concentrate on learning tasks. Furthermore, they were able to work more cooperatively in groups and accomplish more as a group because their social skills were vastly improved. Overall, the teachers were pleasantly surprised by the improvements they saw in the children who had participated in the experiment.
The differences the teachers observed in art projects were also very telling. When given paper and a pencil or paint, the children who were denied toys for three months were far more creative with the images they drew than the children who were never denied toys. This included children that would only draw a few marks on paper before they participated in the study. This shows a marked improvement in imagination and their ability to express it.
The research study was so successful in 1999 that many German nurseries still do a three month stint without toys. In the German language, it is called “Der Spielzeugfreie Kindergarten,” which literally translates to “the nursery without toys.” A few nurseries in other European countries and in the United States have tried similar models with great success as well. So, it seems there is a growing body of evidence that depriving children of toys, at least to some degree, not only keeps toys out of rubbish removal bins, it also helps children developmentally in very significant ways.
Depriving Children Or Helping Them?
The results of the German nursery school study, and other similar studies since, do seem to indicate that giving your children less toys may actually help their development in numerous ways. However, even though you now have this knowledge, it can still be difficult for you to “deprive” your children of toys when you see their friends getting more toys. The solution may be to share the results of the research study with other parents and see if you can develop an informal “support group” of parents who want to try giving their children less toys. Once you form these support groups of like minded parents, you could even organize play dates with the children. Let them play together with no toys on a regular basis to increase their opportunity for imagination enhancement and to improve their communication skills.
Clearabee’s Service Aids Parents With Toy Rubbish Removal
Clearabee is an on demand rubbish removal company that now serves England, Scotland, and wales. It is far outperforming the rubbish removal by local councils in terms of how much of the material they collect ends up in the landfill. Using mobile apps and other technological assistance, Clearabee now boasts a 90 percent recycle and reuse rate for items they clear. Parents can help increase this already remarkable rate even higher by making sure they clearly label toys separately from other household items. This way, Clearabee will know to get these toys to places that can reuse them or recycle them. This way, for those toys that you still put in your rubbish removal, they can be diverted from landfills.