Have happier kids with fewer Christmas gifts

Have happier kids with fewer Christmas gifts

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Are you stressing about what to buy your kids for Christmas? Maybe you should shorten that list.

At Christmas, we can sometimes go a little overboard with gifts for our kids. But more toys in the playroom might not be better.

Dr. Alexia Metz of the University of Toledo put this theory to the test, after multiple parents told her they thought their toddler might have Attention Deficit Disorder.

"It occurred to me that perhaps it's not fair to think that the problem lies with the child,"Dr. Metz said.

So Dr. Metz and Carly Dauch, UT graduate student, set up a study.

Over three months, they studied 36 toddlers around two years old.

Each child came to their lab to play two times. The first time, they played on their own for 15 minutes with four toys.

"When there were four toys in the room, they picked a toy up and explored it, took their time with it. Turned it over, tried all the wheels or the buttons or the levers, " Dr. Metz explained.

The next time, they had 16 toys to choose from.

"When there were 16 toys in the room, they flitted from toy to toy to toy to toy," said Dr. Metz.

Meaning kids spent twice as long with the toys in the four-toy room. Dr. Metz said that observation is significant.

"I think that when you have time to explore something and discover that it does something new, you feel like that idea came from inside you," Metz said.

The study found with fewer toys to choose from, there is more time for exploring each one. That time to explore turns into social play and learning Sometimes giving experiences, or going out together as a family can be even more memorable.

"Figuring out the physical rules of things like gravity or levers," explains Dr. Metz. "Or you get to really dig into what's happening in this world, if you have time to explore it."

Here are some simple ways to simplify Christmas?

1.    Buy less toys

2.    Let kids play with their present before opening all of them.

3.    Set some presents aside until later

4.    Plan an experience or event instead of buying more

5.    Rotate toys in and out of the playroom

But that doesn't mean you have to give up the joy of gift-giving at the holidays.

"But it's the afterward," said Dr. Metz. "When you have this abundance of toys. You might introduce a few at a time in the child's play environment. "

And set the other toys aside for later.

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