Collecting: Collectables For Kids

Kids collectables are varying and easily accessable. Collecting can build self-esteem, ease social awkwardness, strengthen family memories, and increase memorization and organizational skills.

Kids collect things. Small children may collect pretty bits of gravel, colorful leaves and odd-shaped sticks. Slightly older children usually collect things that have meaning for them. Parents don't always understand why kids invest the passion and time into collecting, but collecting can be a great developmental help for kids.

Observation and Classification

Many collections by young children are about observing the world around them. How are things different? How are they alike? Jean Piaget, a famous child psychologist, called this the Concrete Stage of a child's development. Children are learning how the things around them relate to one another. This is one reason children enjoy organizing and re-organizing their collections. Enjoyable collecting at this age requires hands-on interaction with the collection. This can frustrate parents who try to interest children in collecting valuable or fragile things.


Psychologists say that children begin to develop a desire for mastery at about age six or seven. This leads to obsessive interest in particular subjects, and collections that relate to those subjects. One six-year-old boy collects airplanes and the facts that go with them. He can rattle off amazing details about the different airplanes. By memorizing this huge collection of data about his passion - airplanes - the child gains a sense of expertise, especially when his mastery of the subject surpasses his parents. The mastery that a child develops from collecting at this young age builds self-esteem and confidence in his ability to learn.

Social Skill

For some children, socializing is a difficult task. Collections can give a child a way to share, communicate and compete with other collectors. A popular collection can become a great icebreaker. When in a new social situation, one child can ask another "Do you like race cars" - or Barbie dolls or Pokemon - and begin an easy conversation. Plus, a particularly well-organized or extensive collection can give a child social "points" with his peers.

Family Ties

Although some childhood collections seem strange to adults, other things may be collected specifically because they tie the child to family. Trains or dolls may be passed down specifically to build a bridge between parents and children. Along with these collections come memories that help children understand and bond with parents. Other collections grow out of family times, such as collections of movie tickets or theater programs - each ticket holding memories of a special parent-child outing.


Collecting is often a part of imaginative play. As a child organizes sports cards, he also imagines himself as a successful athlete. Dolls may be valuable, but they are also representative of people and places that offer hours of imaginative play. For children, the best collections are not those that are protected and admired as they quietly increase in value; the best collections are a springboard for creating new worlds and experiences.

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