How many toys do your kids really need? None at all, if the Germans are to be believed. Germany's daycare centers are taking away toys in order to reduce addictive behaviors in the future. It all began in the 1980s when a study group found that adult addiction could be traced back to the habits formed in childhood. The group came to the conclusion that toys primarily serve as a means of escape and, therefore, removing them may help children learn important social competencies and life skills such as empathy, creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to resolve one's problems. The group's members argued that “our consumer and growth-oriented society, with its permanent addiction for more consumption of the most terrific, spectacular, and latest thrill, might lead into a dead end, by not only destroying our environment, but mankind itself". Following these studies, the first toy-free center was tried out in Penzberg in 1992. Any and all toys (even crayons, paper, etc.) were removed from a few children's groups for three months, leaving only the necessities (furniture, blankets, etc). Parents were informed of the project to help them understand the concept of addiction prevention and to explain their kids' reactions at home. Teachers were instructed not to intervene and to let the kids manage their boredom by themselves. At first, the children were lost without their toys but they soon began “unsystematic" activities that led to role plays, construction projects and excursions to the woods to collect branches. They made handicrafts and learned to play together and work on common ideas together. The teachers only helped in organizing materials and handling the tools when the kids had new ideas. The study found that the children whose toys had been taken away were more creative, well-balanced and had more faith in their abilities. They learned to say “yes" and “no," and also how to use their skills and those of others to achieve their objectives. Outside Germany, other studies have come to similar conclusions. A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School found that scarcity rather than abundance sparks creativity. The question that arises, then, is: Can we, and should we, take away all our children's toys to spur their creativity? Not necessarily, but giving them fewer toys could be beneficial. Have you noticed that it's the kids who have the most toys who always seem to want more? It is a mind-boggling fact that the more toys kids have, the more they rely on external things to escape their feelings of boredom and anxiety.