Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Toy?

After all of the Turkey has been eaten, and Black Friday has passed, the thought that Christmas is upon us cannot be denied.  Cyber Monday is quickly approaching, and as someone who works closely with children and their families, I am often asked the question...."What toys should I buy for my children?".

So, what is the perfect toy?  Is there one?  The simple answer is no.

In fact, there isn't a simple answer to this question at all.  Instead, it's an ideal of numerous possibilities pulled together and the most important piece is you.

The toys I recommend vary, depending on a child's age and developmental skill level.  But one thing I always recommend is that you take time to play with your child.  This means actually putting your cell phones, laptops, and iPads away and completely focusing on your child.  Find your inner child, get on the floor, and just play.

If you have an infant, and you're working on tummy time; face your baby towards you and get on your tummy too.  While she's on her tummy, talk with her, watch her cues, and encourage her.  Present rattles to reach for or a mirror that she can look into.

If you have a toddler, play cars and trucks, trains, or dolls with them.  Engage in pretend play and encourage turn taking.  Look at picture books with your little one and read them stories.  Turn on the music and dance together.

For older children, follow what interests they have and try to engage.  Sometimes it's just giving them you're undivided attention or helping with homework.

This time you spend with your child will be remembered forever.  It's truly priceless.  Remember you don't want to look back one day when your little ones are all grown and say: "I wish I could have worked more" or "I wish I had sent that extra text or email". Instead, you'll wish you would have spent more time with them. 

Yes, there are terrific toys and I am often guilty of over-spending to find the perfect gifts due to the excitement of the season and Christmas morning.  But every year I'm surprised by how simple the gifts can be and the children are still ecstatic.

My favorite toys are forts, tents, tunnels, and boxes....things that all children can spend hours with.  I also love toys that expand the imagination through pretend play and role playing.  It's really the fact that I love ALL toys.  But the best ones are ones that involve you as a parent engaging with your child.

If you can master this, you will be your child's superhero; and why not, you should be!

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