What Age Do Kids Stop Playing With Toys? (How Old Is Too Old For Toys)

When children are really young, it can often be really easy to tell when they are too old for a toy as they will stop playing with it and simply move on to something else. This is usually because their skills are too advanced for the toys that they were playing with.

However, when children become older, it also becomes much more difficult to tell when they are too old to be playing with a certain toy.

Is there even such a thing as being too old to play with toys? Play, as you might already know, is really important for child development up to a certain age, but is there a point in time where children should be putting the toys down?

If your child seems to be too old for their toys, it might not mean that you have to banish toys from your home altogether. There are other things that you can do to change your child’s surroundings positively.

Instead of getting rid of the toys, perhaps you need to switch up the toys that they are playing with. With each developmental stage, your child will outgrow certain toys, and this usually means that it is time to transition to different types of play.

Younger children and older children play with different types of tos, depending on their abilities, skill sets, and understanding. Keep reading to find out more.

The Four Stages Of Cognitive Development

Psychologists have suggested that children go through four different stages of cognitive development. This theory would suggest that the final stage will begin around the age of 11, and it will last through to adulthood. The four stages of cognitive development are thought to be:

  • Sensorimotor Stage – Birth to 18 to 24 months
  • Preoperational Stage – 2 to 7 years
  • Concrete Operational Stage – 7 to 11 years
  • Formal Operational Stage – Ages 12 and over

It is thought that all children go through these 4 stages of development, but sometimes they do so at different rates. The former operational stage is when we become able to form ideas from abstract concepts and can test our own theories.

In this stage, it becomes much harder for children to play imaginary games, and this is essentially because their own brains will get in the way. This is when some children can start to seem too old for toys, but developmentally they still need opportunities for play.

The Former Operational Stage

The Formal Operational Stage is thought to be for children aged 12 and over, but children can reach this stage slightly earlier or later. Some of the major characteristics and developmental changes throughout this stage include:

  • Concrete operations are carried out on things, but formal operations are carried out on ideas. Formal operational thought is entirely free from physical and perceptual constraints.
  • Adolescents can deal with abstract ideas. For example, they no longer need to think about slicing up cakes or sharing sweets to understand concepts like division and fractions.
  • They can follow the form of an argument without having to think about specific examples to help them to understand.
  • Adolescents can also deal with hypothetical problems with many possible solutions. If they are asked a specific question, they would be able to speculate about many possible consequences.
  • From around 12 years of age children can follow the form of a logical argument without reference to its content. During this time, people will develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and logically test theories.
  • This stage sees emergence of scientific thinking, formulating abstract theories and hypotheses when faced with a problem.

Toys For Older Children

More often than not, toys that have an element of danger and skill can help to keep teens healthy while they are still growing.

This is a point in time when adolescents are still learning who they are, and games that allow them to try on different roles and personalities can actually help them to explore themselves.

Role playing games and anything that engages their creativity, like art supplies and complex construction toys can help them to learn new ways to express themselves.

As well as this, toys that have an element of danger are often the best for keeping older children engaged. Things like skateboards are often popular with teens, and this is because they appeal to their natural desire to learn about themselves and their environment through risk-taking.

Teen brains are really busy, which can often mean that your child is interested in toys that don’t really have a real purpose.

This is something that can explain the appeal of toys like fidget spinners, slime, and squishies. They are simply providing children with the opportunity to quiet their busy minds.

Should Adolescents Still Play With Toys?

If a child still wants to play with toys as they move into adolescence, you should know that this is something that is completely normal.

Unless their toys are starting to affect or replace their real-life goals and friendships, then there is nothing for you to be worried about. Older children that have no desire to play are actually a bigger cause for concern.

While they won’t want to play make-believe or with toys that are designed for younger children, they should still have a desire to keep their brains active. Whether this involves playing video games, getting outside, or anything else, doesn’t matter.

Something to be aware of is the fact that there is a current rise in mental health issues among teens, like anxiety and depression and these are things that can lead to a decline in willingness to play.

Introducing light play that reduces stress, encourages teamwork, and inspires creativity can sometimes be beneficial in this situation.

How Old Is Too Old For Toys?

Essentially, there is no such thing as being too old for toys. Of course, there are different stages in development that make certain toys beneficial for children of certain ages, and children will outgrow such toys in their own time.

Although, even adults are still playing with Lego and other toys, so perhaps there is no such thing as too old.