Children take their play and toys very seriously. They use toys to engage themselves as they explore their surroundings, play out roles, and develop their emotional expression. Toys hold a special place in the hearts of children, and they can become possessive of them when asked to share. This could explain why your child clings to their favorite toy or refuses to let others play with it. 13
As a parent attempting to provide the best for your child, you may be wondering:
- Are toys important for your child’s development? If so, how can they play a role in modeling your child?
- Is there such a thing as good and bad toys?
- How do you choose the right toys for your child?
This blog can help answer these questions.
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How can Toys Play a Role in Modeling Your Child?
Studies have shown that play and toys help children’s cognitive, motor, psychosocial, and emotional development—all of which are crucial for raising children who are happy, imaginative, and independent.2 So, it’s understood by many that a toy serves more purposes than just entertainment and can contribute to the growth and development of children. Let’s delve a little deeper and look at some of the toys and the ways they can help model your child.
- Open-ended Toys: Toys, particularly open-ended ones (toys that have multiple ways of being used), can help in the development of their imagination and creativity, allowing them to think outside the box. Give your child a simple toy, such as blocks or play dough. Now, watch as your child engages in a variety of play activities with this toy, such as creating imaginative figures, painting them in different colors, making up stories, and having fun. 10,11,12,15
- Role-play Sets: These toys not only make playing with them enjoyable, but they can also encourage creativity, problem-solving, and socioemotional skills. These toys may also help in improving academic performance, language and communication abilities, and physical development. Give your child a role-playing set, such as a kitchen set. Now, observe how your child transforms into a chef and begins cooking and serving. When they are given a medical set, the scenario changes to being a doctor and treating patients. Role play sets are a fantastic way to introduce your child to a variety of careers. 7,8,9
- Board Games: These games can aid in memory retention and the formation of cognitive associations. Examples of such games include puzzles, matching pictures, flash cards, chess, and finding what is missing. Along with helping the child’s focus, concentration, memory, logic, critical thinking, and spatial reasoning, these activities can also teach them to think strategically and solve challenging problems. Next time you sit down to play chess, observe how focused your child is, as well as how strategically your child thinks and makes their next move.6
- STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Toys: STEM toys can be a useful tool if you want to strengthen your bond with your child while also fostering their innate curiosity and enabling them to observe, explore, experiment, and learn various STEM concepts. You could, for example, build a robotic toy or car with your child from the ground up. While you’re at it, you could introduce a relevant concept, ask thought-provoking questions, and allow them to explore and come up with an answer. By doing this, you can strengthen your child’s learning while also spending quality time with them, which is a win-win situation.3,4,5
Bonus Tip: You could request that your child invite their friends for play to show them the value of caring, sharing, and teamwork. This would also make their game more interesting.
Is There Such a Thing as Good and Bad Toys?
Although there is no such thing as good or bad toys, “war toys” have been the subject of much discussion. “War toys” are defined as “all playthings which imitate things that are used to solve conflict, gain power, or win through violence, and whose aim is to wound or kill” by the Peace Pledge Union, a group that campaigns against them in the United Kingdom. It has also proposed a list of potential “war toys” that includes board games, model soldiers, and replicas of military vehicles.1 Many people believe that these toys teach children to use violence to resolve conflicts and that playing with aggressive toys encourages and desensitizes children to violence.1 However, those in favor believe that playing with “war toys” can help children feel more in control, distinguish between reality and fantasy, understand politics, effectively collaborate with others, and handle any violence they may directly or indirectly witness.1 Numerous studies support both the positive and negative effects of these toys on children, and this issue is still up for debate. So it all boils down to how parents perceive these toys and whether or not they encourage their children to play with them.1
Tips to Choose the Right Toys for Your Child
It can be challenging, but crucial, to pick out the best toys for your child. Here are two important tips that can help you decide which one to pick for your child.2,14,15
- Think about how your child can benefit from this particular toy and how many different learning and playing opportunities it offers.
- Think about how appropriate the toy is for your child with regards to age, safety, purpose, appeal, durability, cost, and so on.
Visit BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog for additional parenting advice on how to encourage kids to learn while having fun.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is NOT medical advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, provide medical or behavioral advice, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, condition, or behavior. You should consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your child’s development to make a medical diagnosis, determine a treatment for a medical condition, or obtain other related advice.
- JUKES, J. A. (2017). Children and aggressive toys – Empirical study of toy preference. UCL Discovery. Retrieved on December 26, 2022 from https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107724/1/Children%20and%20aggressive%20toys%20-%20Empirical%20study%20of%20toy%20preference.pdf
- Turkkan, E., Kacar, A., & Dag, H. (2021). Children’s only profession: Playing with toys. North Clin Istanb, 8(4), 414–420. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430366/
- The Toy Association. (n.d.). STEM/STEAM FORMULA FOR SUCCESS. The Toy Association, Inc. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.toyassociation.org/App_Themes/toyassociation_resp/downloads/research/whitepapers/stemsteam-formulaforsuccess-2019.pdf
- (PDF) PARENT STEM ACTIVITIES. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/355338764_PARENT_STEM_ACTIVITIES
- The Benefits of STEM Education for Children. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.invent.org/blog/trends-stem/value-stem-education
- O’neill, D. K., & Holmes, P. E. (2022). The Power of Board Games for Multidomain Learning in Young Children. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.museumofplay.org/app/uploads/2022/05/14-1-Article-3-Board-Games.pdf
- Stagnitti, K., & Unsworth C. (2000). The Importance of Pretend Play in Child Development: An Occupational Therapy Perspective. British Journal of Occupational Therapy.Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://csds.qld.edu.au/sdc/Provectus/GAPP/Play%20as%20therapy/files/Stagnitti%20pretend%20play%202000.pdf
- Different types of play | Health, well-being, learning and development. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from http://resource.download.wjec.co.uk.s3.amazonaws.com/vtc/2018-19/hsc18-19_3-2/_multi-lang/unit03/04-different-types-of-play-and-their-benefits.html
- VLAICU, C. (2014). The Importance of Role Play for Children’s Development of Socio-Emotional Competencies. Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty: Social Sciences, III(1), Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293019372_The_Importance_of_Role_Play_for_Children’s_Development_of_Socio-Emotional_Competencies
- GOLDSTEIN, J. (2012). PLAY IN CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT, HEALTH AND WELL-BEING. Toy Industries of Europe. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.toyindustries.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Play-in-childrens-development-health-and-well-being-final.pdf
- The value of open-ended play – MSU Extension. (2016). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_value_of_open_ended_play
- Why Open Ended Toys are SO GOOD for Growing Kids – Brain Blox. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://mybrainblox.com/blogs/news/why-open-ended-toys-are-so-good-for-growing-kids
- Önder, M. (2018). Contribution of Plays and Toys to Children’s Value Education. Asian Journal of Education and Training, 4(2), 2519–5387. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1176006.pdf
- HOW TO PICK A TOY: Checklist for Toy Shopping. (2011). www.aota.org.Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/consumers/Youth/Play/Toys%20tip%20sheet.pdf
- Toys & choosing good toys for kids | Raising Children Network. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/babies/play-learning/getting-play-started/choosing-toys