Children have an abundance of toys these days. Have you ever wondered how your children ended up with so many toys that they never play with? Toy stores offer so many options that making decisions about what to purchase can be overwhelming. Often your children’s wishes or desires are developed based on clever marketing strategies rather than their true interests. But there is a guiding principal that can support parents in making decisions and it is simply this. Good toys help children to do the work of childhood, PLAY. Good toys support imaginative play, offer opportunities for practicing relationships and permit children to be themselves.
The toys of a special playtime kit are specifically chosen to facilitate a unique type of play that is nondirective and creates opportunity for children to communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences. A toy kit for special playtime includes only toys that give children the ‘words’ they need to express a wide range of emotions. It is important that these toys are nondescript meaning that they are available to the child for whatever the child may wish to use them for. Characters from a popular television show or kits that are intended to be put together a certain way are highly suggestive and distract from a child’s imaginative play.
When putting together a toys kit for special play time I recommend that parents include toys from the following categories: expressive arts, family relationships, aggression and control, caretaking and nurturing, mastery, communication and transportation. A special playtime kit includes toys that allow children to explore relationships such as a doll house and family characters, a baby doll with blanket and bottle. A real life baby bottle with some water in it offers opportunities for regression within the context of play. A medical kit is an excellent opportunity for children to express the give and take of caretaking relationships. Toys such as army men, handcuffs, swords and aggressive animals allow children to explore any aggressive feelings and desire for control. Children can explore their feelings around food and mealtimes by using toy dishes and food. Creative expression can be found in some simple arts and crafts materials such as paper, scissors, tape, crayons, string and paper bags. Children can play ideas of connection between their different worlds or experiences through toy cars, trains, airplanes, etc. Having two phones in the toy kit encourages communication play and allows some great insight into how our children perceive the conversations they overhear us having. Mastery experiences are provided through building and connecting toys that are not suggesting any particular end product. Parents can be creative in how they put together the kit and can add items that will allow their child a specific type of communication that is unique to their experiences. Your efforts in creating this unique toy kit will be rewarded when you hear the communication in your child’s play that allows you a glimpse into their inner world.
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