Archive | March, 2019

Endorsing Toys?

26 Mar

I have been wondering whether or not to write this blog, but seeing Tim Gill’s excellent piece about parents and playing outdoors, I decided I would!


Recently I was asked the following questions by a journalist:


which toys do you think are most popular with parents and why?

–what can parents learn from playing with their children’s toys?

–how do children benefit from seeing their parents playing?

–which is your favourite toy to play with and why?


Well not so recently, because secretly I was putting off trying to answer, because I didn’t feel that I knew what the answers to the questions were and I didn’t want to get into the business of endorsements. However, there were a few things that I felt I did know and which I was happy to share and they are these:


First of all, children consistently say that one to one time with their parents is what they want more than anything. Sadly, that is followed by the fact that the one to one time they actually get is usually in the supermarket, which turns out to be what they most dislike!


Secondly, they want to determine what they play with you and there is sometimes a message in their choice and quite often it is a message that they have difficulty telling you, but equally often not, just fun, playing games, letting off steam.


Thirdly, never view play as a waste of time, for a child it is liminal, the way of opening doors, reordering recently acquired and not yet understood knowledge and experience, seeking your confirmation. It doesn’t matter if it is getting into a cardboard box or pushing mud into a puddle.


Fourthly, often it is what is on the box that attracts them, but it is what they do afterwards with the box or the product that will grip them equally and sometimes more so.


Fifthly children want to do what they see their parents doing, mowing the lawn, cooking a cake, mending a tap. If you sit at a computer at breakfast and all day they will want to do the same (and look where that is getting us).


And finally, I haven’t mentioned risk yet! If we want our children to welcome the changes that are going to happen to them during their lives then they must be encouraged to take risks now. They will actually need little encouragement, children love risk. It is their parents and their parent’s peer groups who tend to get in their way, but if we mollycoddle them they will be unable to deal with life. So however anxious it may make you, give them freedom and risk; trust them, they want to live!


I guess I could go on, but I didn’t feel that this was what was wanted, either by the journalist or the toy companies that were sponsoring the article! Tim asked what other people would add to his list and I would ask the same.


Unlike Tim I have no evidence, I’ve been in the business long enough to know that people only ask for evidence if they don’t want to accept your views and my feeling is that if you don’t want to agree with me that’s fine, but I would love to hear your views!