Is 5 Gifts the Perfect Number of Gifts to Give Your Kids?

Is 5 Gifts the Perfect Number of Gifts to Give Your Kids?

Ever wonder if there is a "perfect" number of gifts to give our kids at Christmas? 

Here are a few of the reasons we’ve settled on the 5 Gift Rule for our family:

Research suggests that there is a tipping point where more toys actually makes kids overwhelmed and less happy.

In a recent study at the University of Toledo, Ohio, researchers found that when given only a few toys to play with, toddlers “played with each for twice as long, thinking up more uses for each toy and lengthening and expanding their games, allowing for better focus to explore and play more creatively—qualities that benefit children in the long term.”

The research also shows that children who have fewer material possessions, but positive relationships with parents and peers, score higher on self-esteem assessment tests. They also have fewer behavior problems and demonstrate more resilience in the face of obstacles than kids with overindulging parents.

Research from the University of Missouri has shown that “children who expect many and expensive gifts can suffer negative social and emotional ramifications that extend well beyond their childhood,” predisposing them to addictive behaviours like gambling and compulsive shopping. 

The research also suggests that giving your child too many toys can lower their self-esteem if they define themselves by what they have, and not who they are.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, recently reported that a new study published in The Journal of Infant Behavior and Development shows that, “young children who play in environments with fewer toys tend to display sustained levels of attention, increased imagination, perception, cognition, and motor coordination.” and that, “fewer toys may allow for deeper, sophisticated play, because of the opportunity to become creative with each object in the environment.”

Becker notes other benefits to kids having fewer toys:

  • Kids have better social skills. Kids learn to develop their relationships, and studies have linked childhood friendships to greater academic and social success during adulthood.

  • Kids learn to take better care of things. When kids have too many toys, they tend to take care of and value them less since there is always another in the toy bin.

  • Kids spend more time reading, writing, and creating art. Fewer toys gives kids the space to love books and generally discover and develop their talents.

  • Kids become more resourceful. With only the materials at hand, kids learn to solve problems—a skill with unlimited potential.

  • Kids argue with each other less. A new toy in a relationship is another reason to establish territory between kids. But kids with fewer toys are compelled to share more, collaborate, and cooperate.

  • Kids learn to persevere. Kids with too many toys give up too quickly on a toy that challenges them, replacing it instead with another, easier one. In the process, they lose the opportunity to learn patience and determination.

  • Kids become less selfish. Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want, setting the tone for developing a more unhappy and unhealthy lifestyle.

  • Kids go outside more. Kids with fewer toys look to the outdoors for entertainment and learn to appreciate nature, so are more likely to exercise, resulting in healthier and happier bodies.

Thinking about adopting a new 5 Gift tradition at your house this Christmas? Download the free PDF 5 Gift Wish List!