I have a few policies for my little ones that include “no screens (tv, phone, computer etc.), no batteries (electronic toys etc.), no sugar, and no junk food” just to name a few. I know, what a crazy and mean mom. Really it’s not that bad let me explain.
Without “screens” the child is forced to learn to use their imagination, and they are much more active. When they are active they are practicing motor skills, gaining muscle and learning. I know they can learn from educational shows and games. Yes, maybe but that is only one dimensional. Children learn to play, they learn to entertain themselves rather than be entertained; a skill that will be advantageous for the rest of their life. Yes, this makes parenting more work but parenting was never meant to be a passive activity; if it was baby’s would be born mobile and capable of feeding themselves in one way or another. Parenting doesn’t stop there.
Even the “educational” electronic toys can only do so much beyond driving mom crazy with the never ending noise. Ever tried to sneak out of a sleeping child’s room and step on or kick something that begins to sing the ABC’s? Pretty sure I can sing the ABC’s just as good as the toy and can gain more of a bond with the child when doing so. Also these toys may sing about counting and colors but unless you are there showing what these words mean, they will mean nothing still.
Did you know that parents that are more attentive with their children when the are young will have a closer relationship and more trust with the child as they grow? This will go both ways.
Of course the screens and batteries rule comes with some leniency. My husband enjoys winding down at the end of the day watching his sports team of the news, the little Mister isn’t getting sent to his room because the tv is on. But we don’t turn it on during the day. I usually do my computer work during nap time but it sometimes happens during playtime too. I don’t want him growing up in a hole, not knowing how to use such devices, but he doesn’t need to grow up too fast either. They are children, not little adults. (This goes for a dress code too)
As far as battery operated toys, we don’t buy them. Everyone knows the rule and should we receive one it is added to the mix of toys. So far they haven’t been a popular choice when set out with the option of a non battery toy.
I believe toys should be fun yet educational, whether it’s learning to shapes, colors, sorting, counting, building, or imagining. All of which require the child to be moving, thinking and building motor skills. Once they get a little older this can evolve into problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Example; When my brother was little, he wanted to trap the neighborhood bear. (We were into hunting, lots of fun stories about him!) How was he going to trap this bear? Well, he used one of dad’s hand saws, cut down a few young trees, cut them into pieces and nailed them together in a box shape. Set the box up like you see on the cartoons with the bait underneath and a stick holding up one end. Thinking the bear would come for the bait and knock the stick, getting stuck in the box (which I’m pretty sure was not big enough for the bear). You see, he was active, devising a plan, carrying it out etc. (It wasn’t until years later we found out the “bear poop” in the trap was horse shit Uncle Greg brought over. He really had my brother and I going that he was getting the bear in but the trap needed work.)
Then there is the less is more concept. You hear how children have short attention spans, well, I buy it and I don’t. If you place a child in a room filled with all sorts of toys spread about, they will get “bored” quickly. Place the same child in a room with half the toys, each organized by type or category, this child will play much longer before getting “bored”. Typically boredom is due to over stimulation rather than nothing to do. The child gets overwhelmed with the possibilities of play and can’t focus. Another cause can be the child has gotten so used to being entertained that when they are not, they don’t know how to entertain themselves.
I wish I had a picture of the little Mister when he first saw his “toy box” at six months. We have a basket in the living room for toys. It’s small, but so is our space. Usually when he is on the floor playing I would set out one or two things that he could crawl to and play with (or chew on). Just out of curiosity one day I stood him up by his toy basket to see if he would pick out the toy he wanted to play with. His eyes got huge! Then he proceeded to pull every toy out and dropped it onto the floor. Once they were all out, he had no interest in playing with any of them.
Ok so I’ve talked all about the toys we like and you went to your local big box store and maybe, just maybe found one toy that looks even half way interesting. Now your thinking where in the world are these so called toys. Well I discovered Melissa and Doug. These are our favorites! You can find a very select few here and there but they have a ton on their website http://www.melissaanddoug.com/classic-childrens-toys. I should get some sort of endorsement something, but I don’t. I do really recommend these though.
There you have my first “soapbox sermon” on toys. Brace yourself there could be more in the future.