Many well meaning parents will buy gifts this season for their kids and teens that may be on one of the hot toy lists but lack true play value. Many toys that are hyped by media and word of mouth do not provide the type of play activity that can lead to healthy growth and development.
New research shows that appropriate play stimulates brain development. Play should be active, child directed and tap imagination, which develops creativity and problem solving ability. Many of today's toys are passive and direct play through an onboard computer. This is like giving kids junk food instead of nutritional meals.
Toys with real play value keep on giving by way of new adventures and discoveries in each play session along with the development of creativity and problem solving skills to last a lifetime.
Good Toys Are: appealing and interesting to the child - proper for the child's physical capacities - appropriate for the child's mental and social development - well-constructed, durable, and safe for the age of the child.
If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Through toys, children learn about their world, themselves, and others. Toys teach children to - figure out how things work - pick up new ideas - build muscle control and strength - use their imagination - solve problems - learn to cooperate with others.
Dolls, puppets, character play sets, cars and trucks are great for fantasy play. Art supplies, PlayDoh, blocks, Tinkertoys, Erector Sets, Legos encourage creativity. Don't forget outdoor toys like bikes, skates and sports equipment to encourage active play. Puzzles, board games, card games tap knowledge and strategy.
With pediatricians recommending a limit of 2 hours of screen time per day for kids, the number of video games and videos under the tree should be limited. Also, parents should review content no matter what the rating. Good choices now reduce potential for violence later on.
Parents of young children should use extra caution and buy toys that are safe. Review toy safety guidelines. Read labels. Toys appropriate for older children should be kept away from younger siblings. Parents should teach and enforce safety rules for new activities such as riding a bike or skateboard. Have the right safety gear. Supervise new hobby activities that use sharp tools, chemicals or electricity.
During the holidays, parents often spend time playing with their kids and the new toys. Parents are encouraged to continue to play often with their kids during the rest of the year. They will find it not only is great for their kids but is a great stress reducer for the parent as well. It is important to let the child direct the play. Join them in their world. It is a time for parents to learn about their child not to teach kids the "right" way to play.
By following these simple suggestions, parents will be giving their kids the gift of valuable play that will keep on giving throughout the year and throughout life.