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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Toys for the Holidays

It  is  now  that time of year when  parents and  relatives

become  concerned about holiday gifts for children.   Many people

give  a  great deal of time and attention to  choosing  just  the

right  gift  and  are  disconcerted  when  the  child  finds  the

packaging more appealing than the gift.
My  first suggestion is to teach children not to believe all

of  the advertising they see on television.   They ask  for  toys

which  look  great  on the tube and then  are  disappointed  with

reality.  These  toys cost much more because you are also  paying

for  the  advertising.   When children make up  their  list  from

television  commercials,  they  tend to become very   long  ones.

Parents  and  relatives then feel guilty if they  disappoint  the

children  by not getting everything on the list.   Shopping  from

TV  also  makes some toys very popular and parents sometimes  are

run ragged trying to find a sold-out item.
Therefore,  my  second suggestion is to have an agreed  upon

limit to the child’s list.   In that way, you can add to the list

toys  which  you feel are more suitable for the child’s level  of

development.   Also, try not to be swayed by the  television  and

other advertising gimmicks yourself.  Above all,  do not feel you

have  to  satisfy  the  child’s  desire for a  toy  you  feel  is

unsuitable just because everybody else has it.   Begin  early  to

do  this. It is very  difficult  later  to change   your  child’s

expectations  and to keep  from  disappointing him  because   you                        

can  not  possibly acquiesce to  the  commercial  demands  around


Beware of toys that have small pieces.  Objects should be at

least  one  and  a half inches  long  and  of  course  all  paint

should be lead-free.  Choose toys  which  allow  children to  use

their   imagination   and creativity.   Children  tend  to  loose

interest  in toys which  can only be used in one prescribed  way.

Lego  sets never loose their popularity because they can be  used

If  you  are  going to buy games   which  have   complicated

directions  attached,   you must be prepared   to  help  children

figure  them  out.    Are  you up to  the  challenge?   Read  the

directions  first before buying the game  and make your  decision

accordingly.    Also,  you probably will have to play   many   of

these   games  with  your  children,   so   you   might  consider

buying  ones which interest you too.   Good games  are  wonderful

gifts and have the potential for bringing the family together for

a fun time.

Be cautious  about  buying toys  which come unassembled  and

in   unopened  boxes.  Often,  the directions are  impossible  or

incorrect or the most important piece is missing and the store is

closed.  If you are going to do the assembling, do not wait until

Xmas eve to start.
It is always nice to give books for presents.  Inscribe  the

inside   of  the book  with  some  sentiment  which  personalizes 

the  book  for  the  child.   You  can  start  giving   books  to

children at seven months of age.   These books should have stiff

pages  for children up to fourteen months.   Your  librarian  can

help  you  with suggestions.
It is the wise parent who is careful to make this season one

of  giving rather than one of getting.  Even very young  children

can  make  pictures  and cards for other members of  the  family.

Older  children can write stories or poems or make  something  at

school.   And do not forget to encourage your children  to  thank

their  gift-givers as they should be thanked for the  gifts  they

have given.  Have a happy holiday.


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