Children always know what kinds of things they want for Christmas. Some, like my oldest daughter, generate long lists of items they’d like. Others are more subtle, but when you’re at the store and you see them staring, you know which toys they’d love to own. But did you give much thought to which things you should have bought them?
I don’t mean you should ignore your child’s wants and give them only things you think they should have. Considering that most of us cannot buy every toy our kids want, there’s a degree of that anyhow. What you should consider, however, is which toys and other gifts will really be best for your child.
Books or Video Games?
I’m pretty sure most kids these days have lots of video games. Game systems are common in most households. Now look at your child’s book collection. How does it look?
I don’t care if it’s comic books, fiction or non-fiction, I firmly believe that every child should have access to a lot of books, far more books, in fact, than they have video games. Age and content appropriate, of course.
You don’t have to buy them all if you make regular trips to the library. That’s what the library is there for, and your child can find out which books he or she would like to own by trying them out for free. Used bookstores are another great resource. There used to be a $1 bookstore fairly close to me, and I miss them dearly now that they’ve closed. It was wonderful being able to tell my kids to “go at it” there and buy just about any book that caught their fancy.
Seriously, so long as the books are appropriate, I don’t stress about what type of book my kids pick. The important thing is that they read. I know some people are down on comic books as reading material, but some comic books use very advanced vocabularies. They aren’t all bad at the least, and if that’s all your child wants to read right now, remember that it probably will lead to reading other subjects eventually, and relax.
Do All Toys Have to Be Learning Toys?
I’m a big fan of educational toys. My oldest daughter got a microscope for Christmas last year, and it was one of her favorite gifts. She hardly wanted to put it down. But I don’t expect all toys to be educational.
For one thing, every toy teaches something, even if it’s just to have fun. Board games teach children about taking turns, and may help with other skills as well.
Sometimes you won’t like the lesson a toy may teach, and then you should think about whether or not a particular toy is welcome in your home. Not every family will be welcoming of a Bratz doll or Monster High doll, for example, due to how the dolls are dressed. I certainly have my doubts about what those toys are teaching.
What I suggest is making sure that some toys are educational while remembering the fun. Legos are a favorite because they encourage creativity, especially if you don’t buy only the sets that are made to go together a particular way. We bought my kids a 1600 piece Lego set for Christmas last year, all basic blocks. I figured they’d have a lot of fun with them, and I they combine them in interesting ways with the Alien Invasion set they also got.
Follow Their Interests
When you buy books or educational toys for your kids, make sure you’re following their interests, not just what you wish they’d be interested in. They’re far more likely to enjoy them. They won’t always like the things you wish they’d enjoy, but that just comes of being their own person, and it’s a good thing.