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Lego consumerism - how on earth do I stop this madness?!? - Page 2

post #21 of 35

 

Quote:
The kits are boring... first you have your parents hold your hand for 2 hours while you assemble it and then put it on your desk and just look at it, not play with it because you don't want to go through the tedium of building it again? 

 

I had to laugh at this. DS LOVES building Lego sets. So much so that he independently built an enormous train set for DH's (adult) friend because the friend wanted the finished model but didn't want to put it together.

 

Our library has tons of these type of Lego books:

http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Star-Wars-Dictionary-Library/dp/0756657431/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1332000895&sr=8-9

Which DS loves poring over. Could be a non-stress way for your DS to engage  in his hobby.

 

Also, keep in mind that it sounds like this is a real bonding, social thing with his friends. For that reason, I would probably find ways to honor his interest (which it seems like you are doing) without going against your family's values. Could it be that all his talk and exchanging of catalogs is really more a social thing than him actually wanting more, more, more? Also, maybe Lego playdates are in order!

-e

post #22 of 35

I think it depends on the kid. My 7yo DS loves lego. His father is an engineer and programmer, so all this building comes naturally, and his mother is an artist, so there might be some creative outlet in there as well. So he loves following the book, and building the complex plane, ship, whatever.... After a week in it's "proper" form, the ship may morph into a space ship, into a laser thing, be completely disassembled and added to the buckets of all other legos. And then they are blended into totally different things. 

 

He enjoys the legos. He learns a lot about building, finds it creative and fun entertainment. If my son a different disposition, say a football player, then perhaps instead of legos he would be into collecting football t-shirts (don't the players have numbers that are popular?). If he was a footballer, then that is what his friends would be talking about, that is what they would spend more time doing, and that is where his interests would be. He went through a short marble-collecting phase, as well as a bakugan (sp?) phase. The legos "phase" lasts longer, because it seems more open-ended than marbles and bakugan. But in any case, I don't find legos to be any more or less predatory than any other marketing from other toy companies. 

post #23 of 35

Luckily my DS (about to turn 9, but has been "into" Legos since around 5) seems to be able to appreciate both the sets (Harry Potter for him) and Lego free play/free building.

 

He has a big bin of piece for free play (mostly hand-me-downs) and I love to see how creative he is with all the building he does.  He spends about an hour each day Lego building, and when he's used up most of his pieces (every month or so), we take photos of his creations and then he breaks them apart to start over.

 

With the HP sets, he receives them as gifts or uses his own money.  He builds them within a day or 2, them keeps them on display, but sometimes carefully plays with them - or minifigures from them - with his other creations.

 

How about buying Lego "lots"on eBay (just bunches of pieces mixed together - sometime they include booklets, but mostly not) to encourage more free building & creativity? 

 

I am really annoyed by all the pink Lego stuff / Lego Friends.  I was trying to keep that out of our house for DD, as she's loved free building too, but was given a set as a gift.  Will have to try to make it disappear smile.gif

post #24 of 35

This is an interesting thread.  My sons both love Legos (ages 3&5)  but I hadn't really considered the marketing aspect at all because they have the huge sets that belonged to my husband as a child and to myself and my siblings. Only the basics and they have always just used their imaginations, and I'm always impressed by the creativity.  We've managed to avoid marketing to an extent because we don't have tv, avoid going to toy stores, and when we give gifts we focus more on experiences than things.  I'm going to have to rethink whether or not we want to go to the new Legoland that opened nearby now.  

post #25 of 35

My kids would build the kits, enjoy the end product, and then gradually start taking the really good pieces off to make other things, combine parts, etc. My favorite invention involved part of Hogwart's combined with a Viking ship.

 

They've also used legos from kits to make other fun things - such as a pyramid for a school project, or a cake for a swim team banquet (the cake had to be water related, so they did a swim meet at hogwarts involved a lot of the HP lego. It was freaken brilliant. The swimmers were all wearing hogwarts robes, and there's something wonderful about lego people swiming in blue icing)

 

If the kits you are buying are stressful, then buy easier kits. The ages are just a guideline. My nephew could do the kids at a younger age than suggested, but my DDs needed to be older than suggested.

 

There's a really important word all parents can use from time to time -- "no."  Just because a product exist that causes you to need to say "no," it doesn't mean that anything is wrong. On a recent thread about best toys, legos were mentioned by several people.

post #26 of 35

What if you took a new perspective on this and used it as an opportunity to talk to your son about having a hobby you are passionate about? Make it clear that not only will you not be buying him any new sets but that you are also done talking about it. If he wants to start a list of sets he would like to save for or ask for for his bday then he is welcome to do that. But maybe you guys could talk about what he likes about LEGOs, what his favorite part of the process is, start a photo album of the things he builds, offer to help organize a LEGO swap with other kids to trade those sets that sit unused in the closet for more desirable ones or help him sell those on eBay for funds to buy different sets. If you played with LEGOs as a kid maybe you could talk to him about what your collection was like, how you stored it, what you liked to build..

post #27 of 35
Quote:

Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post

 

And following the instructions is a great skill, as well. It's like a very complex puzzle. I don't know why people get so negative about that and think it means the kids aren't being creative. It's a separate thing but it doesn't prevent creativity. Often, it gives the kids ideas about new methods of construction. Legos are like a puzzle and a blank sheet of paper, a toy that can be used in a specific way or be completely open ended. But that can switch from one way to the other at any time.

 


 

 

 

I agree.  During the four years eldest ds was really into kits, I had several parent friends comment on how glad they were that their kids played with legos "creatively" and weren't into the kits.  I knew they were missing something: at the age of barely five, ds assembled a 900-piece kit recommended for ages 7+ with very minimal assistance.  It takes major spatial and problem-solving intelligence to follow the illustrations for the more complex kits.  Ds also kept all the models assembled, which meant he played with them very carefully.  Then suddenly a few months ago, he started taking the models apart (a bit at a time) to rob them of specific components.  For the last two months, he has spent an average of 3-4 hours a day on original creations.  The original stuff he is building clearly shows how much he learned from all the kits he put together (e.g., locking bricks to make the design hold up, framing windows, creating the underbody of a car, etc.). 

 

Although I wish most toy companies didn't market so aggressively, I think Legos are a great product.  We've maybe broken a handful of pieces in the years the kids have been playing with them.  All three kids (and the neighbor kids) enjoy playing with them together.  I don't see them ending up in a landfill, as our original set of Legos was from the 1980s (garage sale purchase) and those pieces are still part of our collection. 

 

I think banning a toy my child was really interested in would be pretty damaging to our relationship.  And I think that barring major concerns (such as safety), what my kids spend their birthday and allowance money on is up to them.  If they buy stuff that is poorly made or not as fun as advertised or whatever, I trust them to figure that out for themselves.

post #28 of 35
Wow, after raising 3 lego immersed sons, I really can't think of a whole lot of negatives about legos. I am actually feeling a little tug at the old hearstrings now that my youngest ds is playing with them less and less. He still has elaborate cities set up on lego tables my dh built, has an old dresser filled with carefully sorted pieces, and has some elaborate story line to accompany his set-ups including a vast array of papers with charts and various illustrations that are a mystery to most of us outsiders but of great meaning to ds. Between him and his 2 brothers, they have amassed a huge collection.

It would never occur to me that there is much negative to say about Legos. They are among the most creative open-ended toys out there. I am grateful my kids have had such wonderful toys to play with all these years. Better than so much else that's out there, really.
post #29 of 35

I agree with the previous poster.  And my heart is broken for your passionate little boy who wants to build.  What's wrong with respecting his passion?  He has to give away a set if he wants a new one?  When my boys were little that would have been like choosing a child to give away.   Because you don't like legos, your kid's not allowed to have them? 

 

FYI, legos help teach important math skills-- kids who are good at building with them are often the best mathies in school.  First Lego League was started by Dean Kamen, arguably one of the most important inventors alive right now.  The reason he started FLL (where kids use Lego Mindstorms to complete challenges) is because he thinks it gets engineering minds going early and sets them on a path to innovation and creativity.  Your child is showing his early interests-- I think it would serve him well if you could at the very least research the educational aspect of legos before deciding it's a frivolous hobby.

post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mere View Post

We constantly talk about and model living a low-waste, simple life.  I limit media exposure.  But he still is never satisfied with the Legos that he has, and always wants more! 

 

Maybe I need to have a rule about no more sets, like someone else mentioned.  Or - and I just thought of this - maybe I should say that for every new Lego set that comes in, one has to go out.  I wonder if there's anywhere we could donate Legos...hmmm....

 

I've been thinking more about this, OP.  I really see where you're coming from.  I share a lot of your values, and when my kids were tots playing with their small collection of wooden blocks and woolen felt food and silk play scarves, I never could have imagined I'd have to deal with this kind of issue.  Most MDC moms have very strong social values, and that's a good thing.  But unless you're willing to relocate to a completely isolated place in the world, your child is going to have some contact with mainstream values.  You can ban media, but unless you want a lonely kid, you can't ban the entire neighborhood.  My daughter learned about Barbie dolls from a book she found at the public library.  I was inwardly horrified, and more so when she wanted to purchase one with her birthday money.  But I knew that saying no would signify 1) that she didn't even have control of her own money; 2) that I was critical of her interests.  No way was I going to risk that.  She purchased the Barbie, and now has a large collection that brings her much joy.  There are things I still don't like about Barbies.  But she's gotten a lot out of them, things I wouldn't have expected and couldn't see until I took the time to watch and observe the world through her eyes.  I think we can model values to our children and have lots and lots of discussions, but ultimately we have to give children room to find out for themselves what their own values are, you know?  Is it more important to have your child own the exact number of Lego sets that you find morally acceptable, or to have him grow into a person whose mother modeled her values but demonstrated flexibility and showed more interest in his passions and less judgement? 

post #31 of 35

In our house we have a rule that before a birthday or Christmas, we need to make room for the new stuff by getting rid of stuff.  This rule applies to my husband and I as well, because there are 4 of us in 750 square feet.

 

So rather than amassing, we are replacing.

 

The beautiful thing about legos is that they are small.  And expensive.

 

The other way to get Legos is with allowance.  In saving their $3 of spending money a month, they practice restraint in buying something cheaper but less satisfying.  I'm hoping this will eventually lead to delayed gratification in other things.
 

post #32 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommajb View Post

Another thought:
My girls and I do not want the girly legos especially after I talked to them about why I did not like them. After having this discussion with them I realized one thing I didn't like about many of the collections is how specificaly toward boys or girls they are. I don't like ninjago or playing pink cupcake shop (at least not when there aren't any cupcakes to eat). When I stick to toys with mass appeal in our family we have better luck - I am more willing to play along, greedy monsters are less likey to show up, toys play better together (legos and silkies for example), my children play better together, and we purchase fewer toys.
I agree with this. I loathe the gender specific Lego idea. Luckily my 5yo girl covets Star Wars sets.
post #33 of 35

I kinda think it's awesome your son is into legos and has no exposure to TV.

 

But I get how limited the sets are and how expensive they can be.

 

Here's what we've done when there is a toy that my girls want but we don't *agree* with the consumerist attitude that is developing - the entitled to everything emotion.

 

We tell them, it's OK to get it, but they have to PAY for it.  Wow, does that slow it down a lot.  My girls have both saved their allowences ($3/week) plus birthday money etc.  So they have the money.  But when they have to part with it, there is a lot more thought involved.  I'd say 75% of the time they decide not to buy the toy in the end.


My girls are 5 and 7.

 

Another idea:  talk to your library about starting an afterschool or camp lego club, like a pp suggested.  Go to the thrift store and buy some used, universal legos, or solicit donations through the school.  That way it becomes a different sort of activity -- social, and free of charge -- AND good for the community.

post #34 of 35

Forgot to mention, I work at the library, and I am thinking of starting a lego club.

post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

 

I've been thinking more about this, OP.  I really see where you're coming from.  I share a lot of your values, and when my kids were tots playing with their small collection of wooden blocks and woolen felt food and silk play scarves, I never could have imagined I'd have to deal with this kind of issue.  Most MDC moms have very strong social values, and that's a good thing.  But unless you're willing to relocate to a completely isolated place in the world, your child is going to have some contact with mainstream values.  You can ban media, but unless you want a lonely kid, you can't ban the entire neighborhood.  My daughter learned about Barbie dolls from a book she found at the public library.  I was inwardly horrified, and more so when she wanted to purchase one with her birthday money.  But I knew that saying no would signify 1) that she didn't even have control of her own money; 2) that I was critical of her interests.  No way was I going to risk that.  She purchased the Barbie, and now has a large collection that brings her much joy.  There are things I still don't like about Barbies.  But she's gotten a lot out of them, things I wouldn't have expected and couldn't see until I took the time to watch and observe the world through her eyes.  I think we can model values to our children and have lots and lots of discussions, but ultimately we have to give children room to find out for themselves what their own values are, you know?  Is it more important to have your child own the exact number of Lego sets that you find morally acceptable, or to have him grow into a person whose mother modeled her values but demonstrated flexibility and showed more interest in his passions and less judgement? 

 

Wise words. 

 

I've just realized that one reason that we didn't struggle with consumerism issues with Lego is that my kids inherited a huge tub of Lego from their cousins. New sets came into the house on birthdays and Christmas, but there wasn't a constant hunger for new Lego - they had such a large supply to build their own creations. You could scour yard sales this time of year for inexpensive Lego and then new sets could become a special occasion treat. 

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