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Must we have toys for Christmas?

| by Victor Cherubim

( December 17, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the world of enchantment, children everywhere want toys for Christmas. However old we grow, we perhaps act as if we are all children at heart. We feel we have never been weaned from toys, whether it is a train set, a fancy dressed “Barbie “doll, now a technical toy or a an iPod. Whether we like playing with model racing cars or even collecting “old Crocks,” our hobbies, started as children have grown up with us.

Playing is important to children. It is the way they practice growing up. As toys are the tools children use in play, giving of toys has become a tradition at festive occasions. Anything children can play with safely can be a toy. In England, toys can include even pet animals, puppy dogs, and parrots.

Children need toys for development. Sensory toys –for touch, sight, sound, taste and smell
development - or make believe toys for social development, or creative and intellectual toys - such as clay, crayons, paints and toys- for development of communication skills.

Toys are a learning medium; they often fit in more than one category. Children could also learn about feelings from toys, how others near them, think, act and feel, especially mother, and what brings approval and disapproval to her.

To make sure toys involve some kind of interaction with their children, parents need to play with their children. This is more than bonding, it is education, character building.

Why the necessity for interaction?

Parents need to play with their children for many reasons:

1. To help develop listening skills. We see this when a child receives musical instruments. I can remember my mouth organ, the sound “forever” echoing, till
I grew out of it, for the benefit of all concerned. It was a lesson for others in tolerance, and for me in listening.
2. To help children learn social skills. Playing alone as opposed to becoming social players with each other instead. What is sport, if not learning to play according to the rules.
3. To show children new ways of activity, using possibly the same toy. Progress in innovation and interpersonal skills although not termed as such in childhood, give a degree of self worth to a child and encouragement to parents.
4. To be able to develop communication skills early on is an essential development. Researchers maintain that less interaction by parents in child development and speech therapy is caused by lack of parental attention or perhaps, the lack of disposable time with children.

Toys give important background, information, communication and listening skills besides the value of play, social interaction and behaviour patterns for children, thus consideration is necessary in buying the right toys. With tight budgets, parents find it also difficult to make sure that their children receive toys that are inexpensive, fun and at the same time support development.

The Great Christmas Toy Rip off

Not only has the price of goods and services doubled since the credit crunch, but the price of toys too has quadrupled. The following are some examples of Toy “Rip off,”
as leading manufacturers’ models, some now selling at near 45% of the Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

Price comparison agencies for example state, “Flutter by Fairy Flying Doll” ( Spinmaster Toys) has changed in price from £16.49 to £23.99 and now priced at £34, 99. The magic not only in price but also in the doll itself, which flies over your hand. Again, “Fury by Boom” by Hasbro, a virtual pet, has suddenly risen, in price, from £49.99 to £54.99.

To give a few other Toys which are keeping their price, we are told the No.1 Toy in Britain this Christmas, is Lego’s – “City Coast Guard” for 5-12 year olds at RRP £20.00. “Monopoly Empire”-Hasbro, another board game was £19.99 but now is advertised at £14.99, Dr.McStuffins Doctor’s Bag Play Set, of medical accessories and instruments (Flair,) is reduced from £19.99 to £13.29 while “Monster High 13 Wishes” is £8.00.

Toys and Habits

Keeping pace with increasing prices, people all over, are seeking ways out of this conundrum. “Wonga” a pay day loan organisation is doing well. Money Lending and Pawn shops are mushrooming. Gambling has become increasingly legitimate in England and soon may become socially acceptable in many other parts of the world.

Casinos are becoming one of the world’s fastest growing industries, attracting many who want to be rich overnight. Technological advances continually supply easier and more enticing ways to gamble “the night away,” the latest being on the internet.

What we learn as children, become habits later in life. Compulsive gamblers perhaps have not been weaned from their anti-social behaviour as children. Can you blame the innocent child? Do we need to imitate others?

It appears, compulsive gamblers constantly think of casinos, having “graduated” from their betting shop, are planning the next move to fund their habit. They are out of order to be unable to tolerate “being a loser”.

That is more so why, the idea of turning Sri Lanka into a “Casino Kingdom,” is opposed by most parents and those who stand by the teaching of The Buddha.

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