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What do you do when you lose a toy?


Even well into adulthood, some of our possessions will be inevitably lost or left behind.  Sure, it’s frustrating but there’s a lot we can teach our children when it happens.

There may be tears

A bit of crying from the initial shock of a lost toy is normal.  The frustration of not having the toy in hand, the sadness at the thought of having lost it forever, the confusion of not knowing what happened – these feelings can be overwhelming for younger children.  If your child cries, simply acknowledge their feelings, help them put it into words, and comfort them.  This a golden moment for children to learn how to verbalize their feelings. Additionally, children can also learn about words to describe their feelings through stories about lost toys.

Encouraging solutions

A solutions-oriented attitude is something that we can start to nurturing early. Get them started on solving problems through leading by example.  You can suggest retracing your steps if you were out, or combing through the house if at home – a can’t miss opportunity to encourage some tidying up!  The most important point here is that the kids place their energy into trying a solution and not giving up right away.

Learning from our mistakes

Losing things that are important to us are impactful opportunities for learning. The emotional trauma makes the lesson much more unforgettable.  No matter whether you and your child find the lost toy in the end, it’s important that you show your child there’s something to be learned.  Here are some examples of lessons that could arise:

  • Important possessions require extra care and attention. Especially if they are one-of-a-kind, rare, or difficult to replace.  This is a chance to also teach your child to appreciate special things.
  • Losing things is preventable. Brainstorm together to identify ways to prevent losing things in the future such as labeling their possessions or putting them back where they belong.
  • It’s okay to ask for help! Some children are quite responsible.  For them, it’s very important that the shame of losing something doesn’t prevent them from coming to you for help.  This is a good time to help them understand that pride is sometimes secondary to solving the problem and to have faith that you're there to support (and not judge) them for the mistake.

Alternative endings

Stories don’t always end the way we expect them to. Perhaps the search for the lost toy doesn’t conclude with the toy being found.  This is a great time to empower your child to take ownership of their story and to shape it with their own hands.  The toy is lost but what will your child do next?  Will your child be asking you for a replacement?  Perhaps they will handcraft their own?  Or maybe they will shift their devotion to another toy that they own? This could be time to indulge in some imaginative play! 

  • Together you can write a story about where the lost toy has gone.  Check out these folks have decided that the lost toy has gone travelling!
  • After your child has calmed down, perhaps its time to put together a scrapbook or write a journal entry to remember the lost toy.  


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