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The Right Toy Selection Plays An Important Role In Gift Use

The Right Toy Selection Plays An Important Role In Gift Use

Holiday Feature

DENTON — How many parents have been disappointed Christmas morning to find their child playing with gift wrap and not the gifts? Keeping some simple toy selection rules in mind can help ensure preschool children will enjoy their gifts more than the boxes.

“First, parents need to make sure all toys they buy their children are safe,” said Dr. Jo Ann Engelbrecht, professor of family sciences at Texas Woman's University in Denton. “The toy shouldn't have any small parts the child can put in his or her mouth.”

Equally important, the toy should be durable. Pieces of broken toy pose just as great a choking hazard.

Multi-Use vs. Single-Use

“Toys that can be used for a variety of things will be used more than a toy that has a single use,” Dr. Engelbrecht said. "Open-ended" toys let children be creative and use their imagination. A toddler can use a large ball for playing catch, kicking in the back yard or as a stool for spinning in a circle.

“Something as simple and inexpensive as a beach ball can hold a child's attention much longer than an expensive toy,” Dr. Engelbrecht said. “Markers, newsprint, colored papers, blocks and Play Dough are all things that can keep children entertained for hours and spark their imaginations.”

Challenging, But Not Too Difficult

Durable books made out of plastic or cardboard, puppets and puzzles are other items that entertain and challenge children. And keeping a child challenged is important in keeping a child interested in a toy.

“If a puzzle is too easy, the child will do it once and not use it again, similar to teenagers who find a video game too easy and play it once and then opt for something more challenging,” Dr. Engelbrecht said.

Toy packaging gives recommended ages for the product. But, Dr. Engelbrecht notes, sometimes the recommendations are off. Look carefully at the toy, examine it and determine if it might be too challenging for your child — which also will cause it to be discarded — or not challenging enough. “Based on his or her personality, is it something that your child would be interested in?” Dr. Engelbrecht added.

Think Ahead

Gift givers need to think about what they are going to buy before heading to the toy store. “Have you seen Toys `R' Us? It's overwhelming.

“If you go toy shopping without any idea of what you're looking for, you're more likely to make a mistake,” Dr. Engelbrecht said. “Look in catalogs and online to get ideas first.”

Many online retailers offer an additional service to buyers: customer product reviews. It's another tool gift givers can use to gauge whether or not a toy will work for his or her preschooler.

For someone purchasing a toy for a friend's or relative's child, call the parents and make sure the child doesn't already have the toy and that the parents are fine with the proposed gift. The drum set from Uncle Bob might not be as big a hit with Mom and Dad as it is with Junior.

Don't Let Little Ones Be Overwhelmed

On Christmas morning, let the child open all his or her gifts but then put some of them aside. “If a child has too many choices, he or she will be overwhelmed and won't know which toy to play with,” Dr. Engelbrecht said.

“Rotate the toys," she said. Let the child play with a few for several days or weeks, then pull some others out of the closet and put the toys they have been playing with up. By doing this, it's like discovering new toys every rotation.

Parental Involvement

Finally, Dr. Engelbrecht stresses that parents need to play with their little ones. “Children need and learn from human interaction. Don't let videos, electronic games and television become babysitters.”


For Further Information Contact:

Roy Kron
Director of News and Information
Tel: (940) 898-3456