Festive pester power

Parenting tips by Claire HalseyYour children’s gift lists have been written and you may be looking on with dread at all the toys you’re being asked to buy in the festive season.

Then there’s the cry of “I want that!” as TV advertising makes it’s mark, research and our own experience tells us the more TV your child watches the more likely they are to ask for toys they’ve seen advertised.

Many parents are faced with a dilemma about what to buy to keep children happy but not break the bank, often this is made worse when gifts are opened and the expensive present is untouched but the box it came in keeps them occupied for hours.

Here are some ideas to choose toys that have play, fun and learning value for your children and won’t put you indebt.

First of all make sure you are looking for toys that match the age and development of your child, most items state the suitable age range on the packaging. If a toy is too easy your child will be bored quickly and if too hard then frustration can end the fun. Also check to see if the content of a game is okay for your child, many computer games and action figures show violence and playing these sorts of games can result in your child becoming more aggressive.

Try to choose a range of toys which will appeal to your child’s different interests. Consider gifts from these categories, toys that encourage physical activity such as balls and frisbee’s, games to get them thinking and which can be used for quiet rainy day play like colouring and dot to dot. Think about things which will stimulate particular skills, for example dressing up clothes and puppets encourage imagination, blocks, lego and puzzles help eye hand co-ordination and books and talking electronic games can help literacy and numeracy. Games like snakes and ladders, dominos, UNO, frustration and junior monopoly can help with sharing, understanding rules and taking turns. Craft and art activities allow for creativity and a sense of achievement.

Try to avoid toys which are gimmicky, these toys will lose their novelty quickly and be relegated to the loft or to the jumble sale.

Try to avoid more of the same, if your child already has five Action Men or Barbies will they get much play value out of another one?

Last of all only buy toys and games that look like they’ll be fun !

Remember your child’s wish list is just that – their wishes not their command.

Your children will gain more from having your time and attention than any of the expensive toys they ask for. When you offer gifts you can afford and give lavishly of your time you are giving the best gift of all.

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