It is important to know how to choose the best toys because there are many occasions when children receive them. It is the gift par excellence and the most desired by children.
Whether it be for their birthday, the end of an academic year, the arrival of the Magi, the Little Mouse … the children receive gifts and sometimes we find the crossroads of what to give them or what a toy suitable for them.
How important is play during childhood?
Play is a universal activity and toys are a learning tool throughout the infantile stage.
The natural activity of the child is the game and through it, the child makes an unconscious regulation of their emotions. It also helps you build thought. Through the game, the child shows what they like, what they fear, learn to share, work, develop the imagination … situations that are shaping their future personality.
From the game the child becomes aware of himself and the world around him. Play and toys influence children’s personality, socialization and development at all levels.
There are many types of toys: plastic, wooden, electronic, table … and all of them fulfill the same function: they allow the child to play and enjoy in the process.
With all this, and as you have already seen, one of the tools that the child uses in the game is the toy, which allows to enhance the activity. The toy itself is a didactic element.
Choosing a suitable toy for a child is not an easy task. And also, sometimes, joining the wishes of children with the conditions or pretensions of parents is not easy.
If you are disoriented about which toy may be more appropriate for your child, look at the list that we present to you.
How to choose the best toys?
1. The influence of advertising
When a child asks for a toy we must make sure that it really is what he likes. In many cases, the child asks for a toy because he has seen it advertised and it has generated expectations with that toy that do not correspond with reality.
Keep in mind that a child is a person who is not able to distinguish between age and reality and fiction, so he is not able to isolate himself from a persuasive argument.
A child will not be able to reason if the toy really is as they show it or if they really like it, so they will be convinced by what they see in the advertisement.
It can be affirmed that the preferences of the children are conditioned, in part, by the socialization that they receive through the advertising messages.
You can help him contrast the information displayed in the commercials with reality: talk to him about what he expects from the toy, look for information about him, pictures about what he is, so that you can make sure that if he asks for it, it’s because he wants it.
2. Do not fall into gender stereotypes
Gender stereotypes are a subject with a great impact on the construction of the child’s personality. It is important that you do not identify a toy with a certain gender.
This happens, for example, when we do not give away some toys because we consider that they are not appropriate or will not like the child by its gender (for example, houses or kitchen utensils are not given to children or trucks and cars to girls).
These stereotypes are further reinforced through advertising and other variables such as the color of advertisements and toys, the voice of the advertisement, the way they are presented or the children that appear.
Keep in mind that advertising is a very strong socializing agent and that you are the main model of your child. He will take as a reference model what he sees around him and these stereotypes will shape his way of seeing the world.
Children’s toys should not limit children’s playful experiences solely because of the gender condition, especially if we want equality between men and women.
3. Educate against massive consumerism
It is important that you educate your children against consumption. This involves intervening on advertising messages giving the child tools to defend against advertising persuasion.
The family is the first and most influential system of socialization of the child, and it is here that he becomes a person. You will learn about schematics about the world, about others, and about objects.
There are many occasions when the child receives gifts and is exposed to consumption. Objects and toys are used as a measure of change in many situations: when he behaves well, when he has good marks …
The family must be an effective mediator against the consumer society. Do not buy toys that are a momentary whim. If you educate him with critical thinking , you will be educated in front of the consumer society.
4. Choose toys that allow you to experiment and educate them in values
Children learn and develop through manipulation with the environment, experimentation and exploration of the environment, through observation through the senses and discovery.
For all this, it offers children toys that allow them to put into practice the experimentation.
You must choose toys that stimulate their development, that is, they transmit values such as companionship and cooperation or respect for others.
5. Choose safe toys
As a parent you are responsible for providing your child with toys that are safe.
To do this you must comply with the legal regulations in force in your country, specifying the proper functioning of the toy, which are the risk situations due to inappropriate use and precautions to take.
In addition, it should not jeopardize your health and safety nor that of third parties and you should take care when choosing it at its playful and educational value .
6. Think of the child as an individual
When you choose a toy for a child, focus on it as an independent person as a child. Sometimes when we look for a toy, we think about what all children like in general at that age and we apply it to all of them.
It is important that you ask yourself what you have, what you need, what you like. Adequate is that you choose the toy taking into account their age but also their tastes, interests, capabilities or personality.
7. Adapt the toy to each age or evolutionary stage
When choosing a toy for a child, it is important that you keep in mind how old it is headed. Not only because it is important for safety (for example, to include small parts), but because it is designed to meet the specific characteristics of each evolutionary group.
The needs of the children are also framed by the age group to which they belong. Thus, for example, some toys suitable for each age can be the following:
From 0 to 6 months games that stimulate the senses may be appropriate: lamps or puppets with lights, rattles, mirrors, hanging mobiles , toys with music …
From 6 to 12 months in addition to the toys of the previous group may be suitable other toys such as balls, rag dolls, toys to fit that include shapes and different textures and colors, constructions, rolling objects, bath toys …
Between 12 and 24 months are appropriate the constructions of large pieces, lace, telephones, joggers, sand and water toys, rockers, drag toys, balls, toys to hit or to move …
Between the ages of 2 and 3, drawing and painting games, simple puzzles and dominoes, garages and vehicles, symbolic play toys such as the kitchen, the iron or the telephone, dolls and strollers, columpuos and toboganes, tricycles, toys for stacking,
fitting and stranding …
Between the ages of 3 and 5 we can include games of costumes, puppets, skates, bicycles, bowling, cars, garages, games for trimming, gluing and painting, computers, card games and simple table games, puzzles, musical instruments …
Between 5 and 8 years old , they become interested in card games, magic, table games, complex puzzles, simple mosaics, sewing and knitting games, articulated dolls, ropes, kites, targets, juggling and circus games, spinning tops …
Between the ages of 8 and 11 they are interested in games of experiments, board games, puzzles and complex mosaics, skateboards, mechanical and electrical assemblies, remote control, dolls …
Between 11 and 14 years everything that has to do with table games and strategy games, role playing, card games, puzzles, modeling, paints and trestles, sports games …
8. Listen to your opinion
Although we must help them choose which toys are the most appropriate, especially if we consider what we have said about the advertising messages , this does not imply that you must make the decision unilaterally.
You need to share the decisions when choosing a toy with him. Since you can not buy everything they ask for, it’s important that you talk to him and find out what he really likes.
The toy is a gift for him and therefore his opinion is key when choosing the toy.
9. Choose simple toys
In the technological era in which we live the child is immersed in a variety of toys of different styles, sizes, shapes …
Try to choose simple toys, since they will awaken your child’s creativity to a greater extent. This is not to say that other more sophisticated toys will not like children, but simple toys will increase the uses that are made of it.
If we give away symbolic toys, the reproduction capacity of the toy becomes unlimited and we will be promoting the creativity and originality of the child.
10. Do not give away an excess of toys
It is important that you keep in mind that although the toy is a pedagogical tool, appropriate and necessary for the child, the excess of toys kills the fantasy and produces boredom.
Do not let your child not know what toy to ask when you ask him what he is excited about. This is also part of an education towards responsible consumption .
Keep the illusion of your child and do not burden him with unnecessary toys. There is saturation of toys in many children and this causes absence of fun and real play.
It is not uncommon to see how at certain times of the year children receive so many gifts that they are overwhelmed and are unable to manage such a quantity of toys. Try to follow the rule of what you like and what you need.
Also do not use the toys as a reward or punishment for the child, which does not become a blackmail. Dosage the gifts so that it learns to enjoy them.
11. Give time and books
Although not specifically toys, we can also give children other types of gifts: family and outdoor activities, storytelling, amusement park …
We can also enjoy with traditional games like the handkerchief, riddle, see I see, the blind hen …
Another very important gift in these ages are the stories. Reading the child thinks, learns, gets excited …
Also Read: What is Emotional Attachment?
Therefore, the important thing is the imagination, the fantasy and the desire to enjoy. Choose toys that facilitate participation, that stimulate the imagination and provide feelings.
Choose toys that you can share with other children, foster respect for diversity, a critical spirit, and contain positive messages.