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Choosing Gifts For Children Requires Consideration

Holiday Feature


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.

“Brand-name toys 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 parents.

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.

“It’s important 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 sport.

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,” she said.

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For Further Information Contact:

Karen Treat
Senior Copywriter
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: ktreat@twu.edu