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Teaching Kids How to Say Goodbye to Toys

19 Jun 2014 – 06:39 AM EDT

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As a family of four, I’m amazed at the amount of STUFF we’ve accumulated over time. A few times over the years, we’ve purged our home of the things we don’t need or love, but it just seems to pile up again! While this is fairly easy for myself and my husband, it’s a little trickier for our kids, who have trouble understanding the difference between toys they no longer play with and a keepsake. It’s difficult, especially for young kids, to let go of their belongings. They often feel very attached to them and are reluctant to let mom toss them in the donation box, even if it’s a toy they haven’t played with in months or a pair of shoes that no longer fit!

Here are a few ways you can help to ease the transition!

Talk It Out

If you’ve noticed that a certain toy hasn’t been enjoyed for some time, simply ask your child if they are still interested, while keeping in mind that some toys can be saved as a keepsake (think first baby toy, favorite blanket, etc.). Don’t ask “can I get rid of this?” because you’ll probably be met with a defensive “no.” If your child is no longer interested, ask if they’d like to give it to a family where it’ll be used. If they are keen on playing with it, keep a mental note over the next few weeks to see if it’s used at all. If it sits collecting dust, you can revisit the notion of giving it away. For an older child, selling it at a yard sale might be just the ticket to convincing them it’s time to let go!

Let Them Choose

Ask your child if they have toys they would like to donate. This is a great opportunity to share about giving to charity and since kids love to feel involved they might be more receptive to the idea than you think. Involve your kids in the drop-off process of the donations as well so that they can experience the joy of giving!

The Toy Carousel

I love the “one in, one out” rule. If your youngster is keen on bringing a new toy home from the store, have them agree to make room for it by giving away an old toy. This helps them think wisely about what they ask for while helping to keep toys from piling up at home!

The Wardrobe Debacle

Kids get attached to their clothing and I can relate! I’d feel frustrated if I outgrew all my favorite outfits each year! My surefire way to convince a child that they need to say goodbye to a certain piece of clothing is to let them wear it and just wait for the moment when they complain of discomfort or tripping over their too-tiny shoes! Maybe kids just like to see the proof that their clothing is no longer suitable!

One thing I believe you should never do is to get rid of a child’s belonging behind their back, especially when they are at an age where they can understand that feeling of being betrayed or tricked. Keeping them in the conversation is a great way to foster parent-child trust!

I hope these tips help you to create a struggle-free method for easing your kiddos through this transition!