Too Much Disney Paraphernalia

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Trying to keep Disney paraphernalia out of the house

March 2009

Oh wise Berkeley parents, My son (5), who has not grown up with a TV in the house, nor an arsenal of Disney-licensed paraphernalia, has recently watched the movie Cars. I'm fine with the movie. I actually thought it was a good movie. But what i don't want is the infinite Cars products, or any marketed merchandise for that matter, infiltrating our household. For those parents who try to keep a (relatively) brand-free household, what have you said to your little ones when they have brought you a Cars-branded matchbox car while you're in line at the Long's pharmacy? My answer was this: If we get McQueen, that car will forever be McQueen. But if we get a plain one, we can pretend it's McQueen, and then later, pretend it's someone else. It worked fine, but I didn't think it was that solid of an answer. Do any of you have a better one if (when) the next Cars character gets presented to me on line at the pharmacy? thanks. --trying to hold back the tides.

Sorry, but the toy is for him to play with, not you. I don't know a single parent who loves all the toys their child plays with. What's the big deal? You don't have to buy him a dozen Disney toys, and I feel bad for a little boy who just wants a Lightning McQueen car but can't have it...why? Because you don't want Disney to ''infiltrate your household''? Your son will not understand that. Why don't you take him to a toy store and tell him he can pick out ONE McQueen car? Then if he asks for more McQueen you can remind him that he already picked one out, and offer to get him another kind of car (non-Disney) instead? One car won't hurt the poor kid

Well, maybe another way to view the issue is one of general consumerism and not just ''Cars'' consumerism. And the real issue is what are your values that you wish to impart to your child, and is this an area where the ''rubber hits the road'', or just an annoyance to you (because it really is annoying to have a kid hit you up for anything while out running errands, Cars or candy, or whatever).

Somewhere, in some distant moment of wise, lucid parenting, I made the decision to never (I mean NEVER) buy anything my kid brings to me in the store. I just say ''oh, let's put that on your Christmas/Birthday list''. I pull out some paper and a pen, and we write that thing down. Very seriously, ''what color do you prefer, what character'' etc. And then when the great holiday approaches, we review what's on his list (he's 5, no TV in house either, maybe 3 movies a year with the grandparents) and he figures out what he really wants. And it never is that stupid thing that he mentioned in some fit of impulsiveness. And the other amazing part is that he never begs for things at the store. He can stand in an aisle full of candy and sparkling robots, and never do I have to deal with anything more than ''Mommy can you put that on my list''. Now that he's 5, he's working to earn money, and he's free to spend it how he likes (including a Cars Matchbox car if he wants, spontaneously in the line at Long's!) but he gets that money is hard to come by and should be spent on precious things.

I've just gone through all of my child's toys that he's accumulated (and never or barely played with over the years), and consigned the majority of them to Toy Go Round (with his full agreement, since he gets the proceeds!). Really, does the kid need another Matchbox car, Cars character or not??? Either you can decide that (as the parent) or you can trust him to decide that (and spend his own money!).

Note: Blatant exceptions are made in the produce aisle at the grocery store, I'm very indulgent on produce, especially coconuts which are good for an hour of entertainment with a hammer and chisle. Call me crazy and inconsistent. Simple mom

When your son brings you a toy in the check-out line that you don't want him to get, you say ''No, we're not getting that.'' You don't need to explain; as you've observed, he doesn't understand the explanation anyway. You're in for a long life of these kinds of requests -- be it Disney toys, candy, plastic junk -- so you might as well start practicing saying no now. The only other thing you might say is ''we're not buying toys right now'' or ''we're only shopping for some things we need right now.'' Because, honestly, I wouldn't even want my kids bringing me an unpainted wooden Waldorf-style toy if that's not what we were at the store for in the first place. Non-material Mama

I'm sure you will also read all the advice to the people with the princess infestation! First of all, I really don't think that 1 Matchbox car is going to be a big deal. It's the first movie he ever saw, of course it made a big impression. Kids make up stories based on books they read too and no one is worried about their imaginations being stunted. Second, you don't have to buy your child a toy at any time! Just use your usual reasons for not buying a toy instead of making a big deal about Cars. Third, I do have advice for keeping all the rest of the junk out of your house. Since you have no problem with the movie, you just say, ''Yeah, Cars was a good movie, but we don't usually wear movie t-shirts/shoes/cereal.'' This has worked on my daughter against the princessi, and we have even been to Disneyland! She has a friend whose every garment has some character on it and I just said, ''Some people like those outfits but we just like Princesses in movies, books, and in Disneyland.'' You just act kind of amazed, like, ''Who ever heard of Cars fruit snacks! Weird!'' and move on! anon

I think your explanation is fine. You can always just make it a household rule that you don't have major movie character stuff in your house. I also answered the Disney princess posting, so I'll keep this brief: it is a very short-lived stage. It feels like forever, but it isn't. My kids are 10 and 14 and they are barely into toys any more. You won't believe how fast this part of childhood flies.

Why don't you just buy him a bunch of cool cars to play with? or even a handful of cool cars? I personally don't have so much of an issue w/ the paraphernalia (other than the short-lived devotion to it on the part of kids), but it may just be that your son likes cars. Head it off by getting a really cool car with doors and a trunk that open, and/or that goes when you wind up the wheels (by pushing it backwards then letting it go forward). I'm a girl who LOVED cars as a kid, and I bought my daughter (who was a Disney Princess fan, by the way, for the other anti-Disney poster) a bunch of matchbox cars and showed her how to have fun with them when all of the other parents of girls were looking at me with looks of confusion and disdain. My favorites were the ones w/ doors that opened, wheels that turned, smooth rides, smooth lines. And if your kid really wants another Cars car after all that, is it really a problem? (if so, maybe direct his attention to something cooler that he'll still like when ''Cars'' loses its appeal).