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Just Say "No" To Inappropriate Toys
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sometimes even Santa says no to good children.
"One of the hardest things a parent has to do is say no to the pleading eyes of a son or daughter," said Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
The stress of the holiday season can make parenting decisions even more challenging. While conceding to a child's wants may provide momentary relief, it may cause greater burdens in the future.
"Parents need to trust their judgement about the suitability of certain toys," Davis said. "Expensive toys that burden the family budget may cause more additional stress than they are worth. If children learn that parents will change their mind with enough nagging, parents can expect more nagging in the future."
Davis said parents need to realize that their children will not suffer because they didn't get an expensive toy. If something is not in line with the family budget, don't buy it.
Most adults remember thumbing through toy catalogs and making long wish lists as children, but favorite toys often were not the most expensive. They were toys that uniquely matched special interests and abilities.
"Look for toys that will compliment your child's personality and build on his or her strengths," Davis said. "Base toy purchases on the age and interests of the recipient as well as the family budget."
Every year, certain toys become hard to find because "everyone is getting one." But parents can teach a lesson in peer pressure by not buying those toys if they are not within the family budget or appropriate for their child's interests.
"Keeping up with the Joneses is not just a tough philosophy to live by, it's also impossible. Trying to keep up with peers can teach your child to compete for material possessions rather than be content with what they have," Davis said. "Ask yourself if the hottest new toy is something your child will enjoy for more than a few days."
She said one of the main jobs parents have is to instill in their children positive self-esteem and personal satisfaction, and not to rely on external possessions to make them happy.
"Parents often want to provide better for their children than what they had as children, but the most valuable thing you have is your time," Davis said. "That includes taking time to investigate gifts to make sure they are suitable for your child."
Davis recommended parents be cautious consumers when purchasing items such as video games for their children. Many programs are based on violence.
"Give children your time by helping them learn a new hobby or skill. The holiday season is a good opportunity to teach children to give to others," Davis said. "Work together on a project that benefits the community such as visiting the nursing home, working in a soup kitchen or caroling to shut-ins."