I sat down recently and watched the documentary “Babies” with my wife for an at home date night. A mistake in selection for my wife, because I sat down to critique the movie. Now let me first say that documentaries usually contain bias, inaccurate conclusions, and paradigm shift materials. Keep that in mind when you watch the film, or any documentary.
The best part in the entire film is the depicting of the rural living Mongolian infant, and the urban Tokyo infant. The Tokyo child was shown in a toy room, with lots of options of toys to play with, and was currently playing with a mind stimulating toy. The child in Mongolia was tied to his parent’s bed, he could only travel a certain distance on the floor around the bed because of the rope. This child only had a role of, what looked like toilette paper, to play with. Now, which child do you think is happy in their given state? The Mongolian child.
As this comparison moved along, the restrained child was happy and content playing with his role of paper, despite being tied to the bed. The child in the toy room was getting frustrated in not being able to work the manufacture labelled brain stimulating toy. The child was throwing tantrums, and ignored all the other toys. This child was clearly upset.
This had me thinking about the toys that we buy for our children. Are they fit for our child? Are they age appropriate? Does our child even want to play with them?
Any parent knows, or will learn, that a child finds a box that a toy came in more fascinating than the actual toy itself. Why? Sometimes we purchase toys that we think our child will understand and love to play with, and be rewarded with flashing lights. However, our child finds that toy tedious to play with at the moment, and finds interest in a box. An item that is usually off-limits. I have found with my second child, that he enjoys playing with tuber-ware containers, smashing an old key board, and chewing on a rubrics cube, more than he enjoys a rattle or other toys that we as parents are told for 6-month olds.
As parents we are proud of our children. We want them to be smart, and we feel they are smarter than their counterparts, so we buy them toys suited for three year olds instead of for a one year old. This can create frustration. Even though your one year old may be intelligent for their age, they still have yet to master their motor skills. So, when you have a toy that requires fine motor skills, it can become upsetting for the child and they will reject the toy.
I remember once walking through a mall with my wife and daughter, and there was this display with various sized and coloured balls in it. My daughter streaked over to this container, grabbed a yellow and blue ball and took off with it. Of course we had to chase her down before we were accused of anything, and went to pay for the ball. This ball, because my daughter could play with it, and she had made a choice to take it home, became her ball. Couldn’t go anywhere without it. That’s why when it was stolen it was devastating for her.
Nonetheless, when it comes to buying toys give your child choices. I am not saying take them to Toys R Us and have a free for all. Any child would grab anything and everything. But have them choose a couple toys they like, or you think they would like, and let them pick one to take home. This way the choice is theirs, and the toy may contain some value to them.