Toys are among a child’s first possessions. They entertain kids, but they also help them learn about the world around them. Early experiences with toys can have lasting effects on a child.
There has been much debate about which toys are the best for children. Some argue that high-tech toys provide the best educational opportunities, while others say that simpler toys that require imagination and creativity teach a child to think for himself. But most children end up with a mixture of both types of toys and perhaps that approach gives them the best of both worlds.
Electronic Toys vs. Non-Electronic Toys
Electronic toys keep a child entertained with lights, sounds, and pictures. Small children can learn about cause and effect from them. When they push a button, they get a specified response from the toy. When they push a different button, they get a different response.
Electronic toys often reward a child with a funny sound or other response when they do something correctly. This built-in positive reinforcement is good, but it should also be accompanied by positive reinforcement from parents. Often it is not and that is one of the reasons that some experts prefer non-electronic toys.
Non-electronic toys are often more flexible than electronic ones. They can be used in a variety of ways. Take Play-Doh or alphabet blocks, for example. They require imagination and creativity, but they can be used to make almost anything the child wants to make. They also have added benefits of refining fine motor skills and providing opportunities to learn colors, letters, and numbers.
Toys That Encourage “Grown-Up” Behavior
Kids love to do what Mom and Dad do. Whether it’s cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or working on the car, they are often eager to help. Things like toy kitchens, tool sets, and toy vacuum cleaners let kids “work” with their parents. These kinds of toys are great because they encourage responsibility and build self-esteem while also building motor skills.
Most parents won’t allow their children to watch violent shows on television. These shows could scare the children and they promote behavior that is not acceptable. But many do not realize that war toys can have similar effects.
Most experts say that children should not be allowed to play with guns or other toys that promote violence. There is the potential for many negative effects. These toys send the message that violence is acceptable and conflicts should be resolved by fighting.
It may not be readily apparent, but the toys that a child plays with can have profound effects on them. Providing a child with toys that encourage learning in a healthy way can be a huge asset to your child’s development. Children who learn at home develop skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.