What is more valuable in your child’s life, experiences or stuff?
It is not always what your child thinks is more important, but what is more valuable to their overall development as they mature into adulthood. Knowing that a child’s frontal lobe in their brain does not fully develop until 23-25 years of age should tell you something.
To really understand the overall benefit in comparing these two, you need to understand how each one affects your child.
STUFF: That is how most parents see their child’s toys. More and more toys build up until you run out of space and have to get rid of some. Most parents dispose of toys when their kids aren’t around because they know what would happen. “You can’t throw that out, it is mine, I do play with it sometimes!”
In the spirit of keeping this article short here are some pros and cons to collecting stuff:
- Toys bring immediate satisfaction
- Encourage self-play and independence
- There are a lot of great educational toys that challenge the brain and the body
- Having kids with similar toy interests promotes social gatherings or play dates
- Many times toys bring out the “now response” and have a very short term satisfying effect for kids…similar to satisfying a short term “fix”.
- Kids end up with so many toys, they do not even know what they have and many of them are forgotten. The “Toy Story” syndrome. LOL.
- Expectations are high based on what kids see on TV when they want a new toy and many times they do not live up to what they see on the commercial.
- Toys are not always built well and can easily break leaving one disappointed child.
EXPERIENCES: A lot can fit into this category. Exploring nature, learning a new skill, seeing different parts of the world and the list goes on. These “experiences” really stimulate the brain and create memories that last for years to come. More often you will hear a child discuss an experience for days after the actual event and an adult talk about these same memories later in life.
- Really stimulates the senses and the brain
- Builds memories that can last a lifetime
- Every person is different and brings back their own set of memories
- Your only limit is your imagination
- Experiences can be limited by funds, geographical location, age and external factors sometimes too
- Not all experiences are positive. Sometimes a negative experience can be difficult for a child to dismiss and try again
- Not all parents discuss new endeavors with their kids missing a great opportunity for learning and growing
When it comes to helping your child grow, there is not one right or wrong answer. Usually a good mixture of “stuff” and experiences is ideal. You will notice experiences will build more lasting memories and come up more often than thinking about toys.
Don’t forget experiences are not just from trips, they are from participating in sports, competitions, winning and losing, dealing with bullies, trying new activities, foods and so much more.
More experiences have a positive impact on a child’s development if you focus on the good and not the bad. Life is challenging and the quicker kids learn to deal with the ups and downs they will be dealt with in life, the better.