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Choosing Gifts For Children
DENTON — Children
generally aren’t shy about voicing what they want for Christmas.
For adults, the hard part in choosing gifts is determining what’s
appropriate for the child.
Dr. Diane Karther, assistant
professor of early childhood development and education at Texas
Woman’s University in Denton, says safety and usability are
key factors to consider when purchasing gifts for children.
are scrutinized by the Toy Manufacturers Association and by government
agencies. Most are safe, but adults should always check them carefully.”
Dr. Karther said. Most toys feature a recommended age range for
that product, and Dr. Karther said that provides a good guide for
How the toy can be used
is another consideration when buying gifts.
“Toys should have
broad usability,” Dr. Karther said. “A toy that does
one thing at the press of one button won’t hold a lot of attention
for an infant.” However, she said, play centers with different
buttons and wheels that produce music and pop-up characters allow
the child to be involved in different ways.
Children of pre-school
age need toys that will feed their imagination, Dr. Karther said.
Items such as toy farms and homes or construction or fantasy materials
allow the child to make up his or her own play scene. Software programs
that allow children to draw or create their own stories also make
good gifts, she said.
Some adults focus on
educational toys for younger children, but Dr. Karther favors toys
that stimulate creativity and imagination.
to just let children play with their toys, because therein lies
the learning,” she said.
Children typically develop their own interests as they get older,
and gifts that reflect those interests may be appropriate. Kits
that cover a variety of interests are available, from model cars
or airplanes to jewelry-making kits. Some museum stores have items
such as nature discovery and archaeology kits, Dr. Karther said.
Children who are interested
in sports may appreciate receiving items related to their particular
Dr. Karther urges parents
to put some of the toys away a few weeks after Christmas in order
to keep young children from being overwhelmed. “Store some
toys, and from time to time, rotate them out to spark more use of
them,” she said.
Dr. Karther also suggests
that parents join their children in playing with toys and games.
“Every survey of
children shows that what they really want from adults is time,”
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