At Christmas time, we think about toys for our children. Let’s consider what kinds of toys are most beneficial for our children.
In this age of electronic gadgets and toys that talk and have colourful displays, it may be one of the things you consider giving your children this year.
I get it! In a restaurant the children who each have a phone or tablet to watch a video or play a game are quiet and still. In the same restaurant, children who brought their toys may be in the aisles playing and disrupting the peaceful atmosphere. The ‘electronic baby-sitter’ keeps kids quietly entertained. There are times when electronic toys are the best possible toy for your child.
Choose the toys you buy carefully
Electronic toys that talk, do not teach your child to talk.
Children do not learn speech from gadgets. Children learn speech from watching
and hearing live people talk. They watch your whole face, they see that there
is a connection with you and with the words you speak. Electronic toys are not
a shortcut to a child learning to speak.
When you play with your child and talk to them about what you are doing, they associate your words, expressions, and touch with the words. They see and feel the things being spoken about. Speech is more than mechanical, it is social and relational. There is no substitute or alternative for talking and playing with your child.
Screen time means less time for personal interaction of your
child with adults.
The benefits of affordable, multipurpose toys
Blocks and balls, dolls and vehicles, puzzles and books all stimulate development in your child. Toys should stimulate your child’s imagination and problem-solving abilities. Toys should encourage your child both mentally and physically. These are the best choices.
There is a window of opportunity for children to learn
specific developmental tasks. If they miss that window, there are synapses in
their brains that are pruned. It is not that they cannot ever learn those skills,
but it will be much more difficult and will take a lot more work to learn. One
of those skills is spatial relationships.
Building with blocks, catching and
throwing balls, stretching and reaching for objects and even puzzle assembly contribute
to strengthening these pathways in their brains. Hand-eye coordination is not
developed by pushing buttons on a phone or tablet.
To get the best benefit from the toys they play with, they
need you and all their caregivers to spend one-on-one time with them to talk
and ask questions and stimulate their interest and creativity. Modelling a new
way to play with a traditional toy will challenge them to repeat that and then
to find an even more creative way to use it.
The bottom line
There are no toys that can substitute for a warm, loving, dependable relationship. Use toys to enhance interactions between parents and child or caregiver and child. These relationships are vital to all round good development.
For more research based information see:
Pediatricians Say Kids Need Simple Toys, Not iPads and Electronics
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