If your holiday shopping includes toys for kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, keep in mind the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics, as reported in the December 3, 2018 Los Angeles Times. If you plan to buy cutting-edge digital toys that promise to boost brainpower or give them a head start in school, the pediatricians’ advice is, “Don’t do it.” While they may come in packages featuring “expert” endorsements and price tags that imply value, high-tech toys may in fact undermine learning in young children.
“Evidence suggest that the core elements of such toys (e.g. lights and sounds) detract from social engagement that might otherwise take place” that is important for social development. Pediatricians say the best toys for tots are old-fashioned hands-on playthings that young children can enjoy with parents--things that spark creativity and imagination like blocks, puzzles, even throwaways like cardboard boxes. If you’ve read my book, Six-Word Lessons for Intentional Parenting, you know that cardboard boxes can become many different toys with just a little imagination.
The pediatricians go on to say, “Increased marketing of so-called ‘educational toys’ and the proliferation of digital media-based virtual ‘toys’ have fooled many parents into thinking that newer toys must be better.” They aren’t.
The pediatrics academy recommends the toy lists from Zero to Three (zerotothree.org) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (naeyc.org). Check them for good suggestions. And don’t forget books for children. There are both classics and wonderful new books appropriate for any age group. Buy one for a child you love and read it together.
And while we’re talking about buying gifts for children, I recommend following the rule established by a parent friend who limits each child to four gifts from the parents, “Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.” I think that’s good advice. Happy holidays!
Mary Waldmann's expertise as a speech writer and media expert spans over 30 years including among other roles Public Affairs Director for the US Department of Commerce during the Reagan Administration. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Winning with Today's Media , Six-Word Lessons for Intentional Parenting, and Six-Word Lessons for Compelling Speeches.
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