Activity – How to encourage kids to let go of their old toys
A route to happiness
It can be difficult for any of us to give up possessions we once loved and children especially can find giving up much-loved toys very tricky. We need to teach them that the things they have outgrown are just taking up space in their room and making it feel messy and chaotic.
We need to teach them it’s cool to pass things on.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” William Morris (Artist and designer)
Decluttering and passing on unwanted stuff may sound like chores but in fact, doing so is a proven route to happiness. Having less clutter around gives kids more space and makes things they do want to use or play with much easier to find. Secondly, when they give things to other people they feel good too.
Set them a challenge
Here’s a little challenge you could set them:
You could suggest they find 3 things they can pass on to someone they know and 3 things they can give to a charity shop. GIve them 2 boxes and as soon as they are filled have them put the boxes by your front door to remind you to pass them on just as soon as you can.
Setting a timer can make this a fun activity that doesn’t feel too much like hard work.
If you did this every day for a week they could really make an impact on their clutter!
Do encourage them to reflect
Encourage some reflection too – try asking them… How did it feel to declutter? Has it made you want to give more things away? Does your room look better without so much stuff in it?
Explain how it works
Kids love to know why they should do something and really enjoy hearing the science behind suggestions so do share this with them. Obviusly you will want to couch this in a language they can understand approapriate to their age/understanding.
Our brains are calmer when we live in a calm and tidy place.Clutter and mess cause us to have higher cortisol levels in our brain by overwhelming our senses, and this makes us stressed. This stress makes it hard for us to get things done (like homework!)
Brain scientists have found we are more productive, less irritable and distracted in a clutter-free environment.
Teach them to let go of … Anything!
It can feel really freeing to let go of things that no longer are of use to us. This can apply to a lot of things actually, not just our belongings. If we let go of friendships that don’t work any more, hobbies we are no longer interested in and arguments that are going nowhere we will often feel relieved and we will have space for new better things in our lives. We don’t need to hold tightly to things that don’t make us happy, Letting go can create a lot of happiness. It is a great lesson for a child to learn.
The pleasure of giving
It’s not just having more space that will make kids happy and easy access to toys they do use, but the very act of giving will make them happier too. Who can they think of that might like their old books, too small T-shirt or no longer wanted moshi monsters? And how good does it feel to drop off a load of toys at a charity shop knowing it will make money for a good cause. Tapping into and focussing on positive feelings that letting things go evoke might encourage your kids to make this a regular habit
One of the best ways to teach your child anything at all is to role model it so do let your child see you passing on unwanted things, using the local recycling centre, donating to the charity shop and not being a hoarder!
This activity is inspired by our book Create Your Own Happy filled with happiness boosting activities for 7-12 year olds. It is designed to help children learn theat their happiness is under their control