Children Who Collect Are Not Uncommon

Children Who Collect Are Not Uncommon

The reported incidence of children who collect varies from 30 and 40 percent to perhaps 80 percent. Part of this disparity is that the literature in this area is sparse. We do know, however, that natural items are commonly collected (possibly related to a lack of financial resources) and that there is a difference in what the two genders collect. Girls are more likely attracted to visually appealing items and boys to objects connected to war or sports.

Psychologists have noted that collecting behavior in children often begins around 6 to 8 years of age. This correlates with the time children begin developing executive skills and a sense of control over their surroundings. Developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), even designated collecting as belonging to a ‘concrete operational stage’ in children. This is when they begin to understand logic and use it in reasoning regarding objects in their surroundings and experiences.

Children’s Motivations to Collect

The instigating factors for children to collect include escaping boredom and reality, curiosity about their collectibles, and learning more about them. Other reasons include fulfilling a passion for the objects they desire, wanting to distinguish themselves from others, and expanding their social world by possessing objects they collect. Often, more than one motivation was revealed in surveys. And some children had more than one collection.

In one examination, parents were mentioned three times as frequently as friends and family when examining the child’s wish to collect. Grandparents were also cited. In Beker and Gentry’s paper, “Kids as Collectors: A Phenomenological Study of First and Fifth Graders,” Tony, one of the fifth graders, told one of the interviewers he started his collection of sports cards because:

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My Grandpa had some cards and I just started to like them, and I just kept adding them and adding them to my collection …cause I saw them at his house and then I started to collect them.”

Interestingly enough, a relative of John Lennon, Stanley Parkes, gave John a classic stamp album when he was 10 years old. This started Lennon on his childhood philatelist collecting journey, his first passion, well before he developed his second, that of a singer-songwriter.


The urge to collect can begin early in life. But there may be more child collectors than adults. Though information, in general, about child collectors is anything but complete, child collectors have many of the same motives as adult collectors.

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John Lennon was a childhood collector

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