Toy Takers!: Setting Limits On Children Taking Toys Home

Dec 28, 2023

In this episode, I respond to a question from Stacy in Colorado about children taking toys from the playroom. Stacy describes a situation where a girl repeatedly tries to take toys home, while her sister asks but respects the limit. I explain that children often want to take toys home because the playroom is a unique environment where they feel unconditionally loved and accepted. This desire is heightened for foster or adoptive children, for whom possessions represent safety and stability. Setting limits is key, using neutral language like “toys are for staying in the playroom” and offering choices like where to place the toy in the room. If a child refuses to return a toy, the focus shifts to gently reinforcing the limit and allowing them to choose to comply. While some toys may go missing unnoticed, maintaining a calm and child-centered approach is crucial. Thank you, Stacy, for your question, and I hope this helps others facing similar challenges.

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References:

  • Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
  • VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
  • Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.
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