Why Giving Your Kids Experiences Instead of Toys Makes Them Smarter and Happier

Family & kids
2 years ago

Many parents have gotten used to taking the easy route to make their kids’ day special, by giving them various toys and gadgets. These gifts don’t require much thought, just grab whatever’s trendy and the kid will be happy. But, several studies have found that an abundance of toys can distract and overwhelm kids, as well as create problems well into their adulthood.

Bright Side would like to pinpoint exactly why gifting your children experiences and memories is much better than toys and gadgets, in the long run.

Too many toys can overwhelm kids.

One study observed 24 toddlers playing with 3, 12, and 21 toys for exactly 10 minutes, with either amount. The researchers found that the kids spent more time playing with the 3 toys, proving that children don’t need more toys to have fun.

So the idea is that too many toys decreases the child’s attention span and doesn’t allow them to develop their imagination. As a result, we have kids who can’t concentrate and struggle when presented with choices later in life.

Toys reduce the parent-kid connection.

The Oxford study we mentioned earlier also suggests that by giving kids toys, parents avoid spending time with them. And that’s where it all goes wrong. According to this research, children show much more progress in their emotional and social development if they frequently interact with their parents.

Gift ideas that are way more fun than toys:

1. Classes or special courses

If your child likes to sing, dance, paint, or is interested in a sport, then you have it easy. You can find engaging and entertaining classes that target your kid’s hobby and they’ll be ecstatic about it.

Not sure what your kid likes? Don’t worry. There are many online courses that you can test out before committing to something long-term. See which activities your child likes best and help them find their new favorite hobby.

2. Annual traditions

What if, instead of giving your kid an iPad for their birthday, you take them to Disneyland? It might seem like a one-off thing, but imagine the memories you will create as a family. You can also make the trip a tradition, so that they can look forward to it every year. That’s pretty special!

And it doesn’t have to be a birthday thing. Pick a vacation spot and commit to going there every year in the summer or winter with your children. Imagine the collages you can do afterward with the photos and other memorabilia! This is yet another way to engage your kids.

3. Tickets to events or places

Speaking of traditions, they don’t have to be as grand as an annual trip to Disney World together. You can create small habits with just as big of an impact. If you and your kid are fans of a local sports team, it can be awesome to regularly go to their games together.

Another easy option is the movies, they’re always fun! Just make a habit out of doing movie weekends, and you even have the option of going to the theater or staying at home. If you don’t want to be tied to just one activity, there are also museums and zoos. There are all kinds of activities out there that you can do together!

4. Explore your local area together

Another special way of spending time with your children can be making a hobby out of becoming local connoisseurs. You know how parents sometimes take their kids out for pizza or ice cream? Imagine making it a goal to try every pizza place in your town, while trying to find the very best one. It can also be whatever food your kid likes best. These weekly trips are something for them to look forward to and can definitely be a special bonding experience.

Exploring your local area can also be healthy. Just grab your bikes and cycle around town every weekend. Perhaps try to visit every nearby park you can find on the map. You can’t beat that sense of adventure!

Is there anything special that you like to do with your children? Or maybe there are some traditions your parents had when you were a kid? Share your experience with us!

Please note: This article was updated in April 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


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I can't recall having a lot of toys as a kid but my parents gave me lots of fun moments in terms of traveling.Today, I'm a lover of adventure and I'm going to give same exposure to my kids.

Kids learn better and develop certain skills from outdoor activities.


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