Can collectibles be a force for good?
Collecting seems to be a particularly popular pastime among children. In an ongoing poll carried out by Babycentre.com, 8 out of 10 of parents said that their child collects things, with the majority (4 in 10) preferring things from nature like conkers, shells and pebbles.
A further quarter of parents said their child enjoys collecting toys intended to be collectables such as marbles and novelty erasers, or the latest playground craze of fidget spinners.
Although parents fear for their bank balance when faced with the news that yet another collectable craze is sweeping the playground, the act of collecting actually has some benefits for children.
A common interest to share
Collecting is a great way for children to connect and initiate conversation with peers. That could be trading football stickers, cards or comparing who has the latest, glitziest unicorn squishy.
Such is the power of these collectibles that a child can be elevated to playground celebrity status simply by possessing a ‘rare’ item, especially when they’ve acquired it through luck in a ‘blind pack’ – a toy manufacturers’ crafty way of ensuring that children buy multiple duplicates in search for an elusive rare edition to complete their collection.
Developing negotiation skills
An inevitable part of collecting is the accumulation of duplicates—especially with collectible items sold in blind packs.
Although receiving multiples of the same card or toy can be disappointing for children, it does offer the opportunity for trading them with other collectors.
This instils an understanding of value – are two common cards equal in value to one rare card? – and enhances negotiation skills.
Some children go as far as arranging collections into categories and making decisions about the attributes of different objects, encouraging organisational skills.
Waiting, saving up and ‘earning’
Fuelled by the desire to complete their collection, children are keen to find ways to ‘earn’ additional items.
Collecting items to work towards a bigger prize – known as token economy – is commonly used in the classroom and is seen as a positive way of keeping children on task. Pupils are offered plastic tokens as reward points in exchange for behaving in a certain way.
Once a pupil has collected a sufficient number of tokens, he or she can exchange them for a ‘prize’ such as a toy, extra playtime or downtime in class.
This token economy has shown to be especially useful for children exhibiting attention deficit disorder (ADD) traits, as the tangible reward – something they can hold and see, rather than just the promise of a house point – helps them understand that their positive behaviour equates to praise.
If you like using the reward chart approach at home and your child is an avid collector, this can be a useful system to try out. It’s also a great way to teach patience, as there is no instant gratification.
Getting the best out of collecting
Collecting doesn’t have to mean money down the drain. It can be a cost-free or even lucrative pastime depending on the item the child is collecting.
Objects from nature such as distinctive stones can be great for children to collect because they’re free, easy to find and can even be decorated to maximise their appeal.
Unique collectables that tap into a child’s interests, such as model cars or snow globes from around the world, are more likely to turn into a lasting hobby than a generic craze.
Meanwhile, stamps, coins and higher-value collectables present potentially profitable pastimes which have the added benefit of requiring an element of additional research.
If plastic characters or stickers from the latest movie release are the ‘must-have’ item, it’s inevitable that their lure will eventually diminish, at which point once-treasured collectables suddenly become old news.
Although parents have to bite back the urge to say ‘I told you so’, they can take some solace in knowing that their children have developed valuable life skills through the process of collecting.
TokensFor is a Sheffield-based manufacturer and supplying of plastic tokens and components. Token moulding and engraving is carried out in-house, ensuring complete control throughout the entire manufacturing process.
Tags: collecting, collection, hobby, life skills, money, negotiation, saving, skills development
This post was written by Anna Taylor