TWU professor says toys don’t have to be expensive to stimulate child’s imagination

November 18, 2010 - DENTON — With the holidays approaching and the current economic climate, parents can choose simple gifts that inspire their child’s imagination without making a dent in their wallet. 

Dr. Ron Fannin, associate professor of family sciences at Texas Woman’s University, says that instead of considering the most expensive or elaborate gift for their child, a better question for parents is what toy will hold the child’s interest. 

“Parents who invest a lot of money, time and thought into choosing gifts for their child often find themselves frustrated when the child plays with the box the present came in rather than the gift itself,” he said.  “When children are doing these things, such as pretending a box is a rocket ship or a car, they’re projecting what they want to have going on in their lives.”

Dr. Fannin said that in particular, small children enjoy both physical and imaginary involvement with their toys. 

“Toys should be chosen with an eye toward stimulating the child’s imagination,” he said.  “Because of this, sometimes the toy with the fewer bells and whistles is more engaging.  The simple toy requires the child to involve himself or herself more fully into the play experience.  This is a very good thing.”

Many of today’s toys don’t require much of the children playing with them, Dr. Fannin added.

“Many times, we’re caught by our own technology.  The toys do everything — we just watch,” he said.  “As adults, we buy toys all the time.  Ours are just more expensive and less involved.  If a child has a toy, he wants to use it.”