Why won’t you play with your own toys!? Stay away from my stuff!

Have you ever noticed how children enjoy household items so much more than their own kids toys?  There’s a few reasons for this. 

First of all…kids like to do what others around them are doing.  You use pots and pans, and kids want to use pots and pans.  They learn from watching you and mimicking your actions.  This includes wanting the things that you have. 

Second…household objects are often way less stimulating to young kids than the flashy, brightly colored, music playing toys they are “supposed” to play with.  We often hear about babies becoming overstimulated, but toddlers and children get overstimulated too!  Sometimes they need a break from all the flashing and loud noises of their own toys. 

Third…they can be great learning tools!  Let’s take pots and pans….they can match lids to pots, put objects inside them to hear how they sound when dropped, pretend to make magic potions, carry a lid like a shield and a wooden spoon like a sword, bang them around to hear the new sounds they make, use them as a container for all their treasures…the ideas are endless!

So many people get frustrated when their children play with adult stuff.  I say…help facilitate that play!  Sometimes it’s exactly the kind of play your child needs at that time.  Now, there are times when you will have to teach them what not to do for safety reasons…like when J wants to throw the lids. 

I’m not saying to have a free for all…set limits on things that you don’t want your child to play with…I do!  J knows the things that he can not play with and will usually steer clear of those things.  Although he does test out the boundary every once in a while.  I ask myself a few questions to decide if it’s something that’s ok for him to play with.  Is it safe for him to play with as he wishes?  Is this something that can be ruined?  Do I care if it gets ruined?  Is it something that is mine and I really just don’t want him playing with it? 

Here’s J exploring with some household stuff.


Matching lids…he started doing this on his own…no help from me.


He preferred the tape over the markers and paper I had brought out for him to explore.  He spent forever tearing it and sticking the pieces on anything he could think of.  This was such a hit that I took the roll on a recent plane ride and it was his favorite toy by far!


Carrying around the cushions from our swing.  Not sure what the purpose was, but he was determined to play with them.


Cordless phone…he loves our phones and will do just about anything to get to one.  I do let him play with it, but keep and eye on him to make sure he doesn’t call anyone.


Tubberware, cups, and a bottle warmer….why not? 


My makeup bag.  So many fun things to learn about in here.  There is now a boundary on my makeup because I just don’t want him in it.

Stay Tuned….I’m going to be doing a whole series of posts on how to expand this even more by making toys out of things around your house!

What kinds of things do your kids like to play with around the house?


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I was a Mental Health Counselor who worked with children and mothers in both individual and group counseling environments before I became a Stay at Home Mom to two boys. I have a Bachelors Degree in Child Development and Family Studies and a Masters in Counseling where I specialized in Play Therapy.

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  1. says

    Phones and remotes, definitely. Anything with buttons! And of course the tupperware, and plastic water bottles. He loves any book, no matter how big or small. Then there’s the things we are working on avoiding: toilets, toilet paper, and the trash can in the kitchen. Why are these things so dang appealing?

    Then any time I open the refrigerator, he runs over as fast as he can to grab the lemon juice on the door. It is a fun shape, but he also figured out he can suck hard enough to get juice from under the cap. The kid loves lemons, what can I say?

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