The ultimate gift for your child
A large majority of parents believe that buying toys is the best type of present they can give their children.
In families where mum and dad work extremely hard and have very little, if any, time for their child, do not know how to play with their own child and worse yet, fail to develop a relationship or family bond; the mere act of buying toys seems to be the easy way out for the parents who use them as a replacement for their love and lost time.
This is a double-edged sword that may harm your child in unexpected ways. The act of buying toys to show your love for your child, or giving in to a child's temper tantrums is usually the wrong course of action to take.
In the end the child will not be able to control their desires and will not be able to rationalise and choose what they want in the future.
The most important thing that parents can give their child is "time" because it is regarded as the most important present a child really wants.
" If parents do not spend the time and instead let toys, dolls and games substitute as babysitters, then when the child grows up they will feel as if they were deserted. "
Buying toys and leaving them alone to play with them without giving time for your child means that you are overlooking a small but significant factor. Your child will be deprived of necessary social skills because they will be attached to material things. Your child will not be able to understand how to live with others or comprehend how to develop relationships with their peers. They will not be able to understand the emotional side or feelings of others. In the end the child will feel lonely because he or she is of an age that requires love and understanding from important people such as their parents.
If parents do not spend the time and instead let toys, dolls and games substitute as babysitters, then when the child grows up they will feel as if they were deserted. They will levitate towards other things in life for happiness and stability. This is dangerous because they could end up with bad friends, and get involved with drugs, or spend money on luxury items. This problem won't be rectified in the short term.
The most important thing for a child is for their parents to spend time with them, and get involved with family activities such as going out, playing sports or cooking together. These activities serve as the optimal present for the child because it is a matter of the heart that is being addressed.
But if parents want to buy a present in addition to love and caring, there are certain guidelines to be followed. In short, the presents should be beneficial and contribute to the child's development and skills in four areas:
1. Toys that contribute to the physical development of a child, such as a ball, football or other sports equipment, will help develop and strengthen their muscles and frame.
2. Items that contribute to the mental development of a child, like books, will develop reading skills, thinking capability and intelligence. Firstly, the books should be in a subject that interests the child. If the subject leads to aggressive behaviour or has sexual content, it is your duty to explain why it is not good or the negative side effects if the child chooses to read such a book. Teaching a child by using reason will allow him or her to grow up into an adult able to analyse things in life.
3. Toys that help develop the imaginative side of a child, such as Lego building bricks, jigsaw puzzles, drawing or colouring books, will train children to concentrate, be determined and strive to complete their tasks. More importantly the child will be more jovial and have a good heart. They allow them to practice thinking and decision-making.
4. Toys that help social skills, such as presents that can be shared with other children. These toys should be able to be played with by brothers and sisters, next door's friends or could be games that train children to interact with each other. They will allow a child to learn how to cope and interact with the emotions of others when one side has to lose or win.
The gist of the matter is that parents must make time for their children. This will make the child feel stable due to the knowledge that their parents love them.
Once the youngest child in a family feels stable, parents should teach them that their brothers and sisters are of different ages, which in turn translates into different growth stages; hence, different toys are given to those of different ages. The older sibling gets a certain kind of toy while the younger one gets something which suits their age.
Parents must explain that getting different toys is a good thing because not only will they develop different skills, but they will also be able to exchange them. This will teach the children the concepts of sacrifice and sharing. Once they go out and interact in the outside world, they will be able to exchange and give to others.
However, deep down inside the inner sanctum of a child, what they really want is to be with mum and dad, receive love and warmth, be cared for and paid attention to by their parents.
There is not a single present or toy that can make up for the loving embrace of a parent.
|BangkokPost, myfamily April 8-14, 2010
By Dr Angkana Anyamanee is a psychiatrist at Manarom Hospital