Take a moment to reflect upon your childhood and the things you collected. Chances are you amassed baseball cards, rocks, plastic army men, stuffed animals, fossils, coins, and whatever else that may have captured your imagination during adolescence. I’m reminded of those prized childhood collections nearly every time I enter my oldest daughter’s room and gaze upon her latest organized display of Barbie dolls, plush animals, or Shopkins. She takes great pride and enjoyment in her “show and tell” performances, in which she educates this hopeless lummox on the proper way to accessorize Barbie.
Besides the obvious enjoyment she gets from collecting various knickknacks, there are meaningful life lessons and developmental benefits she gets from collecting.
Having a collection helps children find commonality with their peers and develop a bond among friends. In terms of conversational skills, a child’s collection provides a starting point. For example, time-and-time again, I’ve seen my daughter ask her friend “Hey, wanna come upstairs to see my new Shopkins?” From that point forward, the friends naturally slide into easy back-and-forth banter about the pressing subjects of the day.
Art of the Deal
Just a few weeks ago, my daughter approached me about a proposed trade. It was big deal. Her best friend wanted to trade her American Baby doll for my daughter’s miniature pony (with accessories of course). While I was happy she came to me for advice, I let her know it was her deal to make. In this instance, her collection allowed her to learn the art of negotiation. While she was happy with the final deal, if she later regrets it, she will have learned a valuable lesson about weighing the pros and cons of her decisions.
Value of Money
My daughter is now of the age that she’s asked to pay for her new additions out of her own piggy-bank (okay, not all of the time, but enough to make it count). It wasn’t long after until she started to figure out that she couldn’t afford all the things she wanted, when she wanted them. Because of this, her collecting strategies and sense of ownership have changed.
For example, it’s no longer about buying every little thing she comes across. She now counts her money and saves-up for the things that she really wants. When she finally has enough funds to bring home the next addition, she takes better care of it than if me or my wife just bought it for her.
Children rarely “own” anything. However, when it comes to the items in their collections, you better believe they will claim it as theirs and theirs alone! I’m always amazed by how absent minded my daughter can be when it comes to misplacing her tennis shoes but how laser focused her mind is when it comes to locating a misplaced item in her collection.
Collecting gives kids something to be proud of; something to own. To encourage this kind of pride in ownership, help your little loved one showcase their treasures. Build shelves, create an album, or string-up a hammock to hold their plush animals. Such displays will become the focal point of their space and an immediate conversation starter when friends and family visit. Recommended
As previously mentioned, I’m not as up to speed on Barbie as my daughter is. And that’s exactly how she wants it! She loves to show me how knowledgeable she is on the subject of Barbie. Her confidence soars when she realizes that she knows more about something than I do. Every time she stumps me, she’s motivated to explore more subjects and to learn new things – all in the hope of proving to me once again that she can out think me!
Math & Reading Skills
If you were to ask your little one how many [fill in the blank] they have in their collection, there’s a high probability they’ll know the exact number. Little do they know, they’re honing their math skills every time they count, label, categorize, and organize their collection. Also, chances are that no matter what your child collects, there will be reading involved. If it’s Barbie, it will have a name, come in a package with writing, and sometimes a storybook. If your little one collects fossils, they’ll want to read every exhibit at the local museum.
For those of you with young children or grandchildren, before you ask them to clean up their mess, consider the benefits they gain from the “clutter” in their room and around the house!