What kid doesn’t love to get toys? They’re colorful and fun. They’re better than socks and mittens. They’re stuff to play with!
But toys have their drawbacks. They pile up and take over entire rooms. They become a way of comparing who has more. They trigger fights between siblings and friends. And let’s face it, the holiday toy extravaganza can strain the bank account.
In addition to all this, toys can be overwhelming for Complex Learners. Too many options bring on anxiety. And toys don’t solve boredom. How many times have you heard, there’s nothing to do, despite the mountains of toys and games to the contrary. More toys aren’t the solution, but helping kids work through the boredom and figure out ways to engage in creative play and entertain themselves helps build skills for the future.
Of course, toys are inevitable at this time of year, but here’s three suggestions for the coming onslaught:
• For every new toy, ask your child to find an old one in good condition that can be donated. Be sure to talk about this beforehand to set the stage for a positive experience.
• Ask well-meaning relatives to get only one gift per child, or better yet, one family gift that everyone will enjoy.
• Give gifts of experiences – like memberships to a favorite museum or the zoo, or tickets to a sporting event or show. These don’t take up much space and will give you time together doing favorite things.
Anna Johnson, Head of School at The Wolf School, is a devoted, passionate educator with more than 17 years of classroom and leadership experience. She holds a BA and MAT from Brown University, and speaks locally and nationally on topics related to Complex Learners.