Bring Back the Toys this Christmas: Why Your Kids Need Toys to Grow

When was the last time your child played with Lego blocks or train sets? When did your 7-year old last pick up a plush doll or jigsaw puzzle rather than her fishnets and maid costumes (yes, they sell stuff like that to kids these days)? If you ask around, you'll find that many parents complain their children spend too much time before the television or with their Nintendos and Gameboys.

It will be clear to most that there may be something wrong when flat figures on a digital screen and sexualized 'toys' become more fun for kids than the favorite stuffed teddy that was our best friend as kids or the Jack-in-the-Boxes and picnic sets that we wove stories around. This problem becomes especially apparent during the Christmas season, when the letters to Santa (who many kids don't even believe in anymore) begin to contain requests for things like iPads and PSPs.

With a surge in the use of cell phones and digital media among children and adults alike today, it may seem like old-fashioned toys are forever to be forgotten on shelves. But any child development expert will tell you that these very old-fashioned toys are actually an important part of a child's growth and development. And it's easy buying toys online today, with so many choices and safe transactions.

Why toys are important for kids

Whether it is for toddlers, preschoolers or preteens, toys form some of the most important parts of the child's development. Kids have been playing with toys for centuries until now, and not only because toys keep them occupied and 'out of their parents' hair'. Toys usually become extended parts of the kid's imagination, helping it to develop its thoughts and creativity.

Children learn through play, even though it may not be evident how that happens. They develop their early motor (physical) skills through handling the right kind of toys. The early years of development are particularly important for developing language skills, a sense of emotional security and the ability to communicate with others. Of course the benefits of the toy you buy your child is dependent on what kind of toy you choose, and if it's age-appropriate. But what's worked best for centuries should work well even in the fast-changing world that we live in today.

Simple, retro toys like 'Slip n Slides', bicycles, red rubber balls and clay may actually be better for your kids than fancy electronic toys. Remember that children are active and creative - they are problem solvers. When they play with these simple toys, the kids are in control of them, they build their imaginations around them. Electronic toys on the other hand command your kid and take control. This stops your kids from thinking on their own, which can stunt growth.

Choosing toys for your kids

In order to be responsible parents and give your kids the best resources to develop into creative thinkers, it's important that you choose your Christmas and birthday toys carefully. Many people who have realized the importance of toys are buying toys online, especially during Christmas. When you do the same, make sure that you pay attention to a couple of things.

First, only buy toys that are appropriate for your kid's age. Check the age group for which the particular toy is meant. You'll usually find it mentioned on the website or on the package covers so check the screenshots and other product details before you buy. Also, if you're buying bicycles or slides, make sure it is the right size for your child.

Buy toys that are educational - check the instructions and find out if the toy requires directions and encourages cooperation. If there are rules included in the game-play, they will encourage social skills and sharing. Also, be sure to check for any warnings.

The best toys are the ones that will keep your child entertained, while at the same time developing his or her mental, emotional and physical self. It may help to choose a toy that is suitable for your child's interest. This will keep your child interested and help to develop a passion for fun. At the same time, make sure that it also packs some surprises so your child can expand his or her world.

So think about buying toys online this Christmas (or any other occasion, really) to help your child enjoy childhood in the wholesome way before it is inevitably time to enter the adult world of social media and hyper-connectivity.

© 2013 Juana Aman

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