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Lego and children

Hi all!
So hanging around on this forum, I have discovered that I miss discussions and insights on the topic ”children + lego”.
Not just which sets other people recommend to children of different ages (those I can find on Legos homepage, although that would be welcome here too - to get AFOL perspective and not just none-lego-enthusiast-parent) but rather the dynamics between being an AFOL and having children...and everything around it. Is that relationship in alignment, perhaps even enforcing or is there tension, for you?

So I am curious at how you other AFOLs ”balance the relationship” Lego-hobby and children. Hoping for some advice or inspiration for the future but also generally curious how others have done.

Ill set my specific and current background/situation) in the next post, since I hope to keep asking questions here as my kid grows and to see what other parents may struggle or have a breeze with.


  • SilverLoveSilverLove Member Posts: 105
    So, we are two adults (only one AFOL) that live in an apartment with out son that will be three years this newyear. Its not a small apartment in my opinion, but it is an apartment - thus no dedicated Lego-room/basement/attic like Ive seen some others have. I have one IKEA-Bestå standing in the living room (floor to ceiling) and two wall mounted Bestå-cupboards along one side in the bedroom.

    My Lego are behind glass doors, of which the two lower pair in the living room have safety latches. That has worked untill now, when my son suddently combined the ”climbing up on chairs to reach higher + move the chair to where you want to reach higher” and he has also by now figured out how to open the latch.

    Since he (and I) like Lego so much, I have since this summer bought him his own Lego. He got the #60219, #60212 and #10757 + the helicopter that came with #60204. Im not worried about him putting small bits in the mouth, that has not been done for over a year. Understandably he sometimes dismantles the builds and sometimes larger assemblages fall off. (He can often put together pieces that fall off, while he sometimes get really cranky when he suddently wants his builds put together again as they were designed. And he doesnt exactly have the patience to wait while mum is looking for the pieces that are often scattered across the entire apartment since his free building - and of course he doesnt remember where he last was using specific pieces.)

    Anyway. I always wash my hands before handling my Lego (I dont MOC, only follow instructions), enough so to avoid leaving obvious finger prints. And the Lego is behind doors to stay dust free. Now that you know my flavour of Lego-care, you see my dilemma right?

    He has gotten to play a few times with a liondog from #80104 but in the end my psyche couldnt handle the stickiness his little hands left behind. (Why are toddlers hands always damp?!)

    I really want to be a supportive parent, to encourage his interest in Lego - the free build and by following instructions, right now and as he grows older. At the moment and in the future to come, it would be wonderful to share this interested with my kid. But I also want to have my collection for myself... can I do that without being seen as the dad in the Lego movie?

    Perhaps I can learn to live with visible finger prints all over the Lego when he is older (I have mostly modulars, what is a suitable age?), but I dont want to have to go through possible constant conflict of not being allowed to break apart mums Lego at the age he is now. In addition, he still drools when least expected = thus not very sticker-friendly.

    How did you introduce Lego (not Duplo) to your children? What age? Do you have dedicated ”mine only” sets or are they allowed to play with all Lego that exist in the house hold? If yes to the latter, since what age?
  • SilverLoveSilverLove Member Posts: 105
    Children play with Lego? 🤔
    I KNOW, right?! They should know better (and their parents too) - keep the set in its box, unopened. Also, make sure to store the box in a dry (not to dry!), even-tempered (not to high or low temperature) out of the sun location. Dont dent the box. Actually, dont ever touch the box without the same kind of gloves on, that antique dealers wear. Its also preferable to store the Legoset box in the original cardboardbox that it got shipped in, if it was ordered from [email protected]

    That is the only correct way to treat Lego!
  • AleyditaAleydita Member Posts: 950
    I have a BL store where I sell Lego, including a good amount of Duplo. But my kids' Duplo is kept entirely separate, in fact they're not allowed in the Mr Business room at all. The same rules will apply when they move on to Lego - it will be 'their' Lego. I might take some things from my store for them to use but nothing will ever move in the reverse direction.

    What will probably happen is that if I go out and buy 30 of a given set, I'll part out 29 into the store and they'll get the 30th. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. will probably chip in with a set or two here and there as well.

    As well as the store and what my kids have, there's also what I have, which boils down to modulars and a few other smaller sets I put on display now and again. This will, in time, probably pass to them to play with, though I haven't quite made up my mind yet. If the price of a used Town Hall keeps climbing for example, I might find it hard to justify letting them get their hands on it! I could sell it on and buy them a whole lot more new Lego to play with instead. I'm not emotionally tied to my Lego, I enjoy building it and I think it looks good on display, but I won't shed any tears when I judge it time to let go.

    On the other hand, I have a pretty sizeable collection of polybags and impulse sets, 1000+ of them at the last count. I actually started collecting when my wife fell pregnant and we found out it was triplets. My plan was to use them as rewards or small gifts over the years as they grew up. But now they're mine. They can have the filthy, dirty spares but the rest are mine. My precious.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    I find my kids have plenty of LEGO, and so they don't need to play with mine. When we do family free build time, we use theirs - well in reality it is the "family stuff", their sets plus a whole load that I donate to the pile. 
  • MaffyDMaffyD Member Posts: 3,498
    Out of all my children, it is my youngest, Tom (10) who has kept his love of Lego the longest. The others were either not interested at all or had a Lego phase that they grew out of. That being said, my eldest is now coming back to Lego as something she can display in her geeky bedroom, but so far is only interested in a select few DC minifigs. That will grow I am sure :-)

    But back to Tom. He has his own Lego sets which he builds and plays with and then puts away in one big box. Sometimes he keeps 'special' sets separate and built so that they don't get hard to rebuild once mixed up with his other Lego - to him the building is definitely secondary - he loves making stories.

    So obviously he is interested in my Lego, as I collect sets and do not mix them. He comes to me on a weekend morning and asks if he can play with my Lego. It can be anything I have on display which isn't too big, or something from my stored boxes of Lego. We get out a range that complement what he already has (Superhero, Star Wars, Speed Champions etc) and he goes off and plays with them all weekend, off and on. I get them back Sunday evening, check for any missing pieces and put them away again. I do join in as well, but finding the time is hard. We collaborate on building my sets, which is always fun.

    Repeat the following Saturday. Unless he wants my Transformers instead. :-)
  • SilverLoveSilverLove Member Posts: 105
    @Aleydita: so you have a separate room for Lego that are for your BL store? Is that where you keep the modulars too? Out of sight for the children? I like how you probably have more Lego by yourself then the triplets have combined :)

    @CCC May I ask how old your kids are? And are they aware of your collection? Im thinking up to a certain age one can enforece the ”dont touch mommys Lego” by actually keeping the Lego where the young ones cant reach them. Then after that one has to trust they wont touch the stuff even if the could...thats an awful lot of trust needed. Like Aleydita said above ”My precious”...and not talking about the kids. Lol.
  • SilverLoveSilverLove Member Posts: 105
    @MaffyD That sound lovely! Since what age did you allow Tom to play with your sets all by himself? I mean, was he only allowed to play with those sets in your company at first? I can relate to not having as much time to spend with ones kid(s) as one would like - just make the most of the time when you do spend it together: full presence of the body and mind (not sitting there but with the face glued to the smartphone). It is the quality of time spent together that counts!

    I got truly inspired by your way of doing this, ill copy that in the future! Thank you!
  • SilverLoveSilverLove Member Posts: 105
    At what time did you get your children real Lego? Have you kept strictly to the age recommendations? Eg not given kids 7+ sets when they are younger than that?

    For how long did your kids play with Duplo, if they did? Since there seem to be a few years (according to the boxes) that are overlapping. Reason Im asking is because I wonder if its worth buying more Duplo now that he is almost three or if I should go straight to the 4+/juniors or whatever its called nowadays. (Im getting the Happy Childhood Duplo set in january though - thinking it may cover the ”doll house category” even if he gets bored with Duplo per se, like we gotten most train-related Duplo sets since it covers ”train track category” in addition to being Duplo).

    Duplo-bonus: Im not a MOCer or free builder, but with Duplo I really enjoy building things of my own designs, or as ordered by my on: ”Mommy, build a mother mobster to my baby monster” or ”Build a garage for my cars”. :D Just imagine if they introduced a few basic pieces that allow for SNOT...
  • AleyditaAleydita Member Posts: 950
    Actually my Lego - not the BL store - is currently packed away ready for a house move that ended up being postponed anyway. Not had chance to get it back out yet. Found the following photo from 3 and a bit years ago, obviously the pram is what I was taking a photo of but you can see the modulars to the left - the rest were on the sideboard in the living room.

    I just gave the kids a bunch of 2x3, 2x4, 2x8 and 2x10 bricks and they loved them. Found it a little hard to press them down fully at the beginning and we've already had our first "standing on Lego" scream, but overall they used them really well. Just towers and walls today but they build all sorts out of Duplo so shouldn't be long before they're experimenting. In time I'll throw a few 1x6 bricks and similar into the mix. My kids aren't 4 yet but we're lucky that they've never stuffed anything up their noses or worse, but I'm not taking any chances either so the smaller still will remain off limits for now.

    I think the modulars will end up in a display cabinet of some sort. And yeah, the BL store has its own room.
  • MaffyDMaffyD Member Posts: 3,498
    To start with, it was definitely just his own Lego that Tom played with - at 5 or 6 he wasn't really able to look after them as well as I would've liked. But he never asked to play with my sets back then - mainly because I only had really big whopping sets out (Helicarrier, Batmobile - stuff like that - I forget the exact years) and they weren't really what he liked- cars, cars, cars were his thing.

    So we bought city sets, and I built them with him and we played a bit together before he ran off to play some more, and he didn't mind if they ended up without a headlight or a minifig was missing it's hair - and that's right, I think.

    As he got older, he noticed my sets more and noticed I had smaller sets he could zoom around and we gradually introduced them to him. It was always very touching when he told me "...and no bits fell off Dad - promise!" after playing with them, but I made sure I never held him responsible for anything going missing. That would've been awful.

    It helps that most pieces I can get from Bricklink if they ever truly get lost.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego Member Posts: 15,216
    edited November 2020
    Children play with Lego? 🤔
    People create... smaller people? Er... children! I lost the word there. Children. Designed to supplant them. To help them... end.

    Unless they touch off-limits bricks.  Then all bets are off!
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Member Posts: 549
    Aleydita said:
    we've already had our first "standing on Lego" scream
    That's just part of the standard Lego initiation procedure.
  • daewoodaewoo Member Posts: 793
    I get my oldest daughter Lego dragons (mostly Ninjago), but she has zero interest in anything else Lego.  My youngest daughter has a good sized collection of Friends sets, though I can tell her interest in them is waning.  I wouldn't be surprised if she wanted to sell them all soon.  My other two kids want nothing to do with Lego.
  • 560Heliport560Heliport Member Posts: 3,729
    Disown them! 😀
  • vanvonfullvanvonfull Member Posts: 261
    Nice discussion.  I haven’t wrapped my head around the dilemma of sticky fingers yet, since the kiddos are still young. But I have sets and parts set aside to keep in the kids play room, and my parts/sets will be in the basement. I only have 1 set on display right now (treehouse). 

    My 2going on 3 likes duplo towers to knock down and making a duplo zoo so far. I tested the waters with system bricks recently with a police! Helicopter! Polybag but he just threw it against the wall. Repeatedly.  I’ll try again at Christmas.  He might be more interested when mom & dad are building advent calendars. 

    If we weren’t between 2 houses I would go full winter village and I imagine the train will be a hit. 

    I also have a stack of 4+ sets set aside for him (Star Wars, toy story) and eventually all of the Harry Potter will be for the kids as well since mom enjoys them too. 

    My Death Star & Ewok village were purchased before I had kids, with the plan that I would enjoy them with kids. They’ve been I storage for years, but  hopefully get enjoyed. 

    I have considered that my kids will have no interest in LEGO. In that case, it will remain my late night hobby and I’ll be selling many sets, or at least the figs and I’ll part the rest out for Mocs. 
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 283
    Kids can learn the difference between things they can touch and things they can't. So you can have stuff to display as long as there's stuff to play with too. My kids had tons of Lego, but more often just build stuff with mine. I have stricter rules: clean hands, etc, but they were fine with it. Maybe my kids were just well-behaved? Now they're 12 and 10 and my daughter (12) is the only one who ever builds anything. She goes through phases of "play" and "moc" and she attends a lot of my LUG's events. Too early to tell if she'll be an AFOL but the seeds are planted. 

    I always tell new parents: the recommended ages on the box are a conservative guideline. If your kids are past the "put things in mouth" stage, you can get them into system bricks. They can learn object manipulation and 3-d thinking by building whatever random stuff or by following instructions. Encourage them to build on their own. Most kids can do it themselves.

    If you're a collector who only has Lego show pieces and they're not for playing, you may have a different experience. You'll have to fight the temptation of "that's a toy, let me play with it" and have little to offer to feed that hunger. So best to recall that most Lego stuff isn't worth much once the box is opened and any display model can be rebuilt.
  • OldfanOldfan Member Posts: 703
    My 9-year-old loves her Friends and Minecraft Lego, I got her a custom Lego table for her room.  She wants every set that her best friend has, and vice-versa...birthdays and holidays bring smiles to the Lego salesman in our town.

    My 4-year-old is almost ready to move on from Duplo, he has his single Creater dinosaur set that he adores but still plays with the Duplo selection constantly.

    Dad's Lego is kept in the basement in his storage area and on his own custom Lego table, and on the built-in display shelves...both kids know better than to even think about touching Dad's Lego without permission!  But they are very respectful when they do get to play with my 90's town, castle, and space sets currently on display.  My daughter is very impressed with my half-finished space base MOC that's been in progress for months (she's easily impressed, it's not much!), and I hope it shows her that while it's lots of fun to collect and display sets, it's also lots of fun to build your own thing.  As long as they're engaged, I'll continue to encourage Lego play.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    So a simple example. I always put out a holiday display. It is for display. The kids never had issues issues differentiating that. 

  • khmellymelkhmellymel Member Posts: 1,313
    When my niece was little, maybe about 3, she would be really interested in my Lego sets (the display ones), and it felt mean to say, "but you can't play with that" (even though that's essentially what I did, but nicer - I bribed her away from them LOL).  I decided to buy a couple of sets that kind of work with my stuff, and when she came to visit I'd put them out.  So when she wanted to play with them I'd say, "okay then, how about this one!  Isn't it pretty?" and bring down Stephanie's House (instead of one of my modulars, for instance).  That way she could do whatever she wants and even if there are lost pieces, I wouldn't mind (theoretically).

    To be honest though, I think this taught me more than it did her.  She had sticky hands (and hair, and toes... how are little kids always sticky!?), she tore them down and made me build her "horse jumps" instead, alllllll sorts of things (although she never put pieces in her mouth or nose, thank goodness).  But I always, always managed find the all the parts (eventually), get the sets cleaned up, rebuild them again for her next playdate, and honestly even individual pieces look good as new.  It made me relax a lot, and so now if she wants to play with my Lego instead of hers (yes, she has her own Lego at MY house, sigh), I let her for the most part, asking her to try not to lose anything even if she takes it apart.  She's six now. 

    I think it probably helps only having a flat though, there's not a whole lot of places the pieces can go.  And there is the odd set that I don't let her play with, but she knows this is off limits and sometimes just asks me to show them to her, so I open them up (it's usually a modular) and explain what the bits are and who the people are, like telling her a story.  She's fine with this.

    To be fair, it probably depends somewhat on what a child is like.  What my niece's little sister is like remains to be seen, she's only really been of an age to play with Lego since the first lockdown (here) so I've not been able to observe this.  I can imagine I might have to be stricter with her though, she's proven to be more of a menace than big sister was at her age! 

    And of course, in my particular circumstance they eventually go home, which certainly helps, since I have time to clean up after them before they come back and mess things up again! 
  • f2iso100f2iso100 Member Posts: 68
    I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old. We started out with Duplo blocks, but really quickly transitioned into real sets. When they build, they get frustrated if the sets are too far above their age groups, but they play with everything. I am lucky enough to have a LEGO room, where I keep my sets, and then they have an IKEA Kallax that has their sets in their playroom. Their sets are always a mess - half-taken apart and combined, pieces scattered wherever, but through LOTS of reinforcement, they understand that they have to be more careful with my sets. I even loan them my sets (it was SO hard to give them the Temple of Airjitzu for their Ninjago play!), and they mostly stay intact.

    I've learned that I can let them play in my LEGO room, unaccompanied, but I can NOT trust any of their friends or cousins to show the same restraint! My 8-year-old is even good about taking out the containers she needs for particular parts and putting things back in the right order (I have everything sorted by part type in various bins, and she's probably the only person who knows my system!). She's getting into MOCing, and she takes it seriously. That said, she used to love Elves, but now she's all about Minecraft and nothing else. My 6-year-old likes all the mechs and Jurassic World sets (and the Ideas Treehouse). 

    I think the most important thing is to just set clear boundaries early on and reinforce those every time they forget. It takes a looooong while, but I think most kids can take care eventually :) 
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