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Choosing Gifts For Children Requires Consideration

Holiday Feature Story

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DENTON — Visions of sugarplums aren’t the only things that dance in a child’s head this time of the year. Some children dream of opening their Christmas presents to find the latest, most popular toy to hit the market. Parents should consider more than popularity when choosing their child’s gift, however.

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 manufacturers and by government agencies, and all are tuned-in carefully to the safety issue,” 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 that produce music or pop-up characters at the press of a button or the turn of a wheel 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 or gas stations allow the child to make up his or her own story. 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. 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 after Christmas in order to keep young children from being overwhelmed. “Store some toys, and from time to time, rotate them out,” she said.

Dr. Karther also urges parents to join their children in playing with toys.

“Every survey of children shows that what they really want from adults is time,” she said.


For Further Information Contact:

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



Page last updated November 9, 2004

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