Do toys affect children’s behavior and development? What impact, toys have on kids during their growth years? Not just toys but everything a child sees around has an effect. We all are aware that kids play with toys but what we need to know is that toys too play a crucial role in children’s development and behavior. Considering the amount of time, kids spend with toys; it is quite surprising that so little emphasis is given to their contribution to the growth and development of children. We come across various types of toys and purchase them for kids depending on their interests, inclination, health, age, gender, etc.
Toys are among a kid’s first holdings. They make kids happy and also help them learn about people, things, and the world around them. First or early experiences with toys can have long-lasting effects on a child. Thus, understanding the potential of the sensitive learning period is crucial to enhance the development of children’s cognitive skills.
Now comes the much debatable question.
Which particular toys are best for children? Different people will have different opinions. Some would advocate for high-tech toys for better educational and technical understanding while others prefer relatively simpler toys which help in improving imaginary and creative skills. Different toys serve different purposes and affect kids’ behavior in various manners.
Toys do influence children’s creativity and cognitive abilities. The impact of the toys is different on different children. So you have to be very careful and selective while choosing right kind of toys for your kids keeping their interests, abilities, gender and age group in mind. So getting toys that are appropriate for a child’s age and cognitive abilities will aid in the kid’s development.
Infants are always keen to explore their environment so they should be introduced with toys that instigate them to explore the environment around them.
As infants grow into toddlers and preschoolers, they start developing social skills which ask for a different set of toys for their newly acquired interests.
Kids love to emulate their parents like cleaning the house, working in the kitchen, mowing the lawn, or driving the car. They are always eager to participate with their parents. Toys like vacuum cleaners, tool sets, kitchen toys or electronic gadgets give them the luxury of playing and working with their parents. Such toys are great as they entice responsibility and fine motor skills.
We can also observe, how toys impact a girl or boy child in a different manner. If girls spend a good amount of time playing with toys like toy babies, barbies or kitchen toys they start developing a sense of empathy and responsibility. Similarly, when boys spend more time playing with legos and blocks, they develop spatial and mathematical skills.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not advocating for creating a stereotyped environment in any way, though it has its benefits. But I suggest encouraging your child to use a range of toys. Include neutral or moderately gendered toys in your list of toys.
There is another category of toys called violent toys. Experts say that children should not be encouraged to play with guns or other toys that symbolise violence. Such toys are likely to put adverse effects and make them believe that fighting can be an alternative to resolve conflicts.
Providing a child with toys that encourage learning in a healthy way can be a huge asset to your child’s development. Children who learn at home develop skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
Medically, children are far more versed at learning things at a high pace. They are extremely fast learners. Everything is new and fascinating for them. The world around them is like a flood of information, which they want to embrace with both arms wide open. Promoting the development of language and musical skills early is always recommended as learning abilities are far better at the young age.
Primary classification of toys based on the kind of effects they have on kids
- Logical reasoning and motor skills: Puzzles, Legos, blocks, bracelets, scissors
- Sensory stimulation: coloring, painting, sand play
- Empathy: books, dolls, baby toys
- Task completion, following directions: Craft projects, cooking, pretend play
- Creativity: Colors, blocks, Legos, paper and crayons
- Hand-eye coordination: balls, bikes
- Nature and Science: leaves, grass, field trips, animals, outdoor toys
- Emotion: Musical toys
I may sound confused at times, but all I want to say is toys are the first possessions, companions, and teachers of kids (Of course after parents). Toys may look trivial, but they play an important and decisive role in the overall development of a child. It may not be readily visible, but toys have profound effects on children for life long.