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Dear Marianne:
My husband and I have 2 daughters ages 3 and 5. They have so many toys and it's hard for me to get rid of them because so many of them are from family and friends but it's overwhelming! I think they have too many toys-do you have any suggestions of how many toys a kid plays with in a day and how many do they really need? I don't remember having so many toys as a child-just a few favorites. Then it's hard to get them to clean up b/c I think it
overwhelms them. What do you think?
Phil and Angie, Blue Springs, MO, parents of Marlee 5 and Jaimee 3

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Selling Toy Shopping

Toy shopping should NOT be child’s play!

IIt’s toy shopping time and, as usual, parents are confused on what to buy! Gift giving seems to be about ripped packages, trendy toys, huge boxes, lots of plastic, then days later kids are no longer interested in their newest treasures. Sound familiar? Why does this happen, year after year?

Bombarded with hot toy lists, devised by crafty executives, parents are led to believe certain toys are the ones to buy during the holiday! While parents are busy scurrying around to find these hot hyped toys at the mall or on the internet, they may not realize what is really happening: the media is directing what toys to select for their child. Research shows that toys are developmental tools that a child uses to grow intellectually and emotionally. Each play experience enhances a child’s learning process.

Selling Toy Shopping is a business and not many people know this!

Beginning in September, toy industry publications, magazines, news reports, and individual self-acclaimed “toy gurus” appear in the media with lists of the so-called “best” and hottest toys just in time for holiday shopping.

Many of these lists of toys are chosen with efforts masked by marketing awards, public relations and advertising campaigns to spread a message on what to buy. Here are some of the ways this is done.

  • Editor picks: Journalists create their own list of preferred toys and label them “our picks". Sometimes, these are a round-up list to reflect the personal opinions of the writers.
  • Kids choices: Contrary to what is said, kids are NOT toy experts. The Experts are the qualified educators who study what kids learn during play. Research shows that given a choice of 5 toys to choose from, a child will pick 3 or more that they “like” regardless if they will play with them later. Applying this formula to the popular magazine toy tests, you can understand why so many choices are titled, the "best toys."
  • TV toy tests - These are seasonal in nature. Small groups of unstructured focus groups are conducted with children or undemographically diverse day-care centers. Results indicate their choices for an entire population. Many times these are coordinated by a TV producer/reporter for airing.
  • Paid Spokespersons-Hired by toy companies to appear on TV to claim their toy is among the best, these people profit financially from their efforts.
  • Award Stickers- Sold to toy manufacturers as a revenue source to make money. Sometimes, reviews for these stickers are done with as little as one child playing with a toy to obtain results.
  • Retail Hot toy lists- Compiled by retailers who want to sell you toys based on their own inventory.
  • Personal Opinions; Some people just claim to be an expert and tell you what they personally like.
  • Toy Industry Publications and Media Events- Supported by toy companies to expose the newest toys to consumers. Masqeueraded to the media as the “:best of the season,” this is not much more than a trade show for the press!

While reading toy lists, keep in mind the credibility of the source and choose toys based on a child’s individual AGE, NEEDS and personal INTERESTS. Each child is different and while one personality type may like puzzles and another may like sport or social toys, this does not mean both may like the "hot hyped" toy of the season.
The best thing a shopper can do is to forget these lists. Use them as a guide and follow 3 easy steps before making a decision on what to buy?

  1. Analyze: What does the child have already? (Stacks of board games, tubs of building blocks, shelves of books) Take a quick INVENTORY of your child’s collection and see if there is a type of toy missing from the playroom. A new kind of toy will trigger interest and intrigue once opened!
  2. Simplify- Parents “think” kids need a lot of toys, then regret having so many around the house! It is best to have a variety of TOY TYPES, so a child uses a range of developmental skills.
  3. Magnify: It is imperative that toys are chosen which are age-appropriate and are of interest to a child. Choose toys that "MAGNIFY’ a child’s current skills and challenges those they need to work on.

Toys are an investment in a child’s development. The return is who your child will become tomorrow.




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