2008-12-25 / Correspondents' Notes

Toys You'll Feel Good About Giving Children

In the race to find the ultimate holiday gifts for our children, sometimes we take the "oohs and aahs" into consideration more than we do seeking out presents that will allow for truly redeeming qualities to come to life in children. Gift-giving shouldn't be about being the "best" in the eyes of our kids and submitting to all of their holiday wants. It should be more about finding treats that will bring out the best in kids.

As our children become somewhat brainwashed by the toy commercials this time of year, it's easy to head to the store and buy the latest craze or video game installment that they're promoting on TV. But for those who are looking for something more uplifting and meaningful in terms of toys, it pays to work a little harder to find the right gifts.

Toys that evoke compassion: There's much to be said about a toy or game that will bring out the compassionate side of a child. A baby doll for whom a child has to care and nurture is a good example. Playsets that enable children to dress up as their unsung heroes, such as doctors, police officers, and firefighters, are another example of toys that instill compassion in a child.

Toys that encourage physical activity: Exercise is a known mood-booster, and every opportunity to get kids up and moving is good for their physical and mental health. What about a gift of a sled or snow shoes so that he or she can hit the fresh powder on a snow day? How about a membership to a swim club, so that your child can enjoy the joys of swimming year-round? Who knows, you might inspire the next Michael Phelps.

Toys that boost mental acuity: Making learning fun is one way to help children enjoy learning in and out of school. Hands-on experiences can make that learning even better. Consider constellation cards or books that help children identify those star clusters in the night sky, promoting an interest in astronomy. Puzzles and trivia games target different areas of the brain — ones responsible for problem-solving and fact recollection. For the young bookworm, a new library of books will keep reading comprehension and vocabulary building going even over holiday breaks.

Toys and other gifts that enable families to have fun together: Choosing gifts that are not bound by age restrictions can foster growth and closeness among the entire family. Games like Twister(R) remain family favorites for the fun factor and the opportunity to play together. For those thinking of investing in a Nintendo Wii console, now may be the time to foster some healthy competition among family members, and boost some physical activity as well. New board games are always being released in time for the holidays, Choose games that enable the family to sit around the table with snacks, conversation and good times.

When you're scouring the aisles of the toy store this holiday season, put more time and consideration into choosing redeeming children's toys.

Return to top