Playing it safe
Noisy toys, which can be held close to the ear such as toy radios, should be avoided as they can damage hearing..
• Some toys might be poisonous and parents should look for the non-toxic label on crayons, pencils or any toys that have liquid in them.
• Shooting toys such as guns, bows and arrows and darts can hurt children. When buying these, ensure the darts have suction caps on the end. Or make sure that nothing else can be fired from the toy.
• Toys with small batteries can cause poisoning if swallowed.
• Pay attention to age recommendations. Toy manufacturers usually know their stuff, so if it says “Not for babies” then it’s not a baby toy.
However, her parents are not sure whether Michelle is genuine with her dream of becoming a pilot or it is just childish whims. But they encourage her to work hard if she wants to fly a plane.
Playing with toys is a continuous and expanding process, which with early skills give rise to new ones and new experiences are integrated with previous ones. Through play, children learn about the world and engage in activities that encourage their cognitive, emotional, and social development.
For example, when a child bangs on a drum, she learns she can create a sound. Through play, she learns the important concept of cause and effect. And with time they develop a skill that can see them become percussionist.
Parents are hence required to intentionally select toys that meet a child’s unique needs.
Although toys are provided to children largely to entertain them as they play and keep them busy, they, however, proffer plenty of other benefits in the child’s development life.
Dr Ken Ouko, a Sociologist at the University of Nairobi says toys play an important role in children’s development.
“Depending on the type of toys received and preferred, a child is able to craft his or her thinking around the construct of the toy. In many cases, toys have shaped ‘career affinity’ in children making them feel suited to be associated with specific careers represented by the toy,” says Dr Ouko.
Citing Maina and Muthambi motocross case, Dr Ouko says many people have developed careers in the same way. He challenges Michelle’s parents to provide her with the environment that would make her realise her flying dream career.
“The little girl (Michelle) might be very serious about flying. After all, her mind seems fixed on planes. Time will tell,” says Dr Ouko.
It is through playing with toys that children grow and learn about the world around them. Toys help them to discover their identity; bodies grow strong, explore relationships and practice skills they will need as adults.
Dr Ouko advises parents to buy their children toys because they make them feel appreciated. Their sense of self worth and esteem are greatly boosted by the gesture.