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Teaching Children to Be Generous

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      Q.  My children (a boy 7 and a girl 4) are blessed with very generous
      friends and family. They have two rooms full of toys. So many, in fact, they
      cannot play with them all. I have organized them in toy boxes, tubs, baskets
      and shelves, but I fear there is too much stuff.

      I would like to give them away, hold a garage sale or dontate some of them.
      However, I cannot seem to get the kids to give up anything. We are a frugal
      family and I don’t care for the clutter. I also feel there is something
      wrong with this over abundance of toys that could go to better use than sit
      in the bottom of a basket forever.

      Does anyone have a suggestion on how to help my kids understand the problems
      and how others could benefit from their generosity?


        You could start small.  Find a toy they don’t use much and put it on a shelf in sight but not very easily accessed.  Let it sit for a week or two.  Then point out the fact that it has been there and ask if they really want that toy or not?  If they say yes pull it down and let them play with it. At the end of the day put it back on the shelf.  Let them know it is there.  Leave it until they request it again (or not).  Pull it down if they ask for it.  After 1 or 2 more weeks if they leave it sit put in a box to donate.  Do this with 2 toys (or until you get 2).  Take them and the the toys to a shelter or another place with kids such as a hospital. Let them walk around and meet the kids.  Next go back out to the car and show them the toys. Tell them about the kids inside and how they could use some toys.  Ask them to give one each to a child inside.

        If this doesn’t work them maybe you have a different problem that just kids keeping too many toys.  It coud be they are afraid of having nothing for themselves if they give up some toys.  You could be a bit too frugal or another problem. They may actually like all their toys then you need to rotate them.  In other words pull out all the toys and put some back in the box and put the others away.  Rotate them through out the year.  You may consider it excess but they don’t so respect them and let them play.  Also you may also hold that garage sale by doing the same system with the toys Put out and then sell if they aren’t played with in the time frame.  Give the child most of the profits.  Put the rest in a jar for charity.  Have them give the money to a charity they have visited and agree it’s worthy of help.  That way they learn to give but also they then have money for things they want that your budget won’t extend to.  Good Luck.


          My sons and I have had the same issues, and what worked for us was  She teaches that clutter cannot be organized, and it is okay to bless others with items that are not being loved.  She will show you how to go through the process of decluttering in “babysteps.”  Trust me, I love this woman!


            To keep the toy clutter under control after the initial cleanout try this:

            One new toy in – One toy chosen by child to give away.

            This way the toy pile never grows any bigger.  :D


              My children do not have an awful lot of toys; they have each other to play with, and their imaginations, for the most part. Catalogs to cut up, boxes, some dolls or stuffed animals, a few have collectibles of one sort or another. They seem to enjoy life just fine! We do have an abundance of books.  ;)

              One idea is to pack up about 2/3 of their toys. Just sort them out and put them in boxes, preferably without the kids seeing them (late at night, naptime, or have a friend take the kids for the afternoon). Leave out the ones that you think they play with the most. Hide the boxes somewhere: trunk of the car, under your bed, in a closet up high. Then, if one of the kids asks for a certain toy, tell him you’ll look around for it, and later go to the box (without the child!) and take it out and give it to him. You can find a toy on the floor or shelf later to put in the box in its place.

              Eventually the kids will realize that some of the toys are put away, but they may not even complain other than asking for particular toys. You can point out how much easier it is to keep the toy area picked up when there are fewer toys. Then, if you think they’re ready to sort through the toys and select some to give away, you could do that. As you go through the box, you might want to allow each of them ONE or TWO toys to keep. They’ll probably see some little thing that you never thought was important, and really want to keep it. This gives them the feeling that they have some control over it. Having the toys out of sight for a month will probably help them to understand that they really don’t need that many.

              Another related issue is relatives who give gifts. Perhaps you need to explain to the grandmas and other folks who give the children these toys that they have too many toys, and would they like to get the child something else, say, a savings bond or maybe educational software or something instead of more toys? It is very hard to keep the toy mess under control when there is a constant influx.  :(

              Hope this helps!


                My daughter is only three..and has a hard time giving things away. After trying to explain to her how nice it is to give things to children without any toys, without any give on her part..I settled on boxing up the toys I know she doesn’t play with while she’s at her fathers. I keep them for about a week or two, and if she doesn’t go looking for a specific toy that I boxed up, I give it away. To be fair, I do the same thing with myself. I’m a huge packrat. When I’m cleaning out my closet (And I have to do this atleast once a month..gah!) I put the things I don’t use, but don’t want to give away in boxes..keep them for awhile, and if I don’t go looking for anything in those boxes, I just give them away without opening them again. This makes me feel better about doing it to my dd. I feek guilty about giving away her toys, even though she has about three times the amount of things she could ever play with, and you can barely walk through her room :| I’ve also started asking relatives to give to her education fund, or clothing other than giving her toys for holidays. We have a VERY large family (I have nine siblings) so she certainly doesn’t need a new toy from each family member, and when they give even $20 to her college fund for a birthday/xmas etc, it will add up over time.
                Good luck!


                  My daughter always had and appreciated a little money of her own, so this was an easy strategy for us:

                  When she received new things, I encouraged her to decide (after the gift giver had gone home, of course!) if she wanted to return it for something else, pass it on (thus saving her an expense at the next holiday or event), or sell it on eBay and have the money instead. She made this choice before the packaging was ripped open and it became part of “her stuff.” She’s banked hundreds of dollars over the years with this strategy, and I think she evaluates her possessions more critically because of it.

                  I also like the “toy in, toy out” idea.

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