With Christmas approaching, it seems timely to begin a 4 part series on toys to avoid and offer some helpful alternatives.
Toy shopping can be overwhelming. We are exposed to all sorts of advertising and marketing that convinces us we need to ‘spoil’ our children. Let’s not fall for it and be selective and considerate about what we buy this Christmas.
So, what toys should we avoid this Christmas?
What better toy to begin with than…..
Weird Sexualised Dolls
Barbie is looking quite innocent compared to these newer dolls.
I am quite honestly intrigued by the range of sexualised dolls available for children. A friends little girl brought one over recently and I couldn’t stop staring at it. It was like a Zombie wearing a mini-skirt. It was dark, cold and overtly sexual with an adult shaped body, pouting lips and a black lacey mini skirt and frilly underwear. I asked her what she liked about the doll and she said, “I don’t know. She’s pretty?”.
Many of us make the mistake of assuming (or trusting) that if we can buy these toys in mainstream stores then they must be okay. The fact they are popular allows us firstly, to think that everyone else is buying them for their kids and secondly, they can’t do any harm, right?
Children are not born with a value system or set of beliefs about the world. These values and beliefs are shaped during childhood. Children are like fertile soil – whatever gets planted in those early years is going to grow. If we plant seeds of love and self-respect and tell our kids they are amazing and smart, then those seeds will grow and flourish and shape who our children become. Likewise if negative seeds are planted they will also grow over time and have a negative impact on a child’s life. This is what these sexualised toys do – they plant seeds. It starts with believing that pretty equals sexy. It’s an introduction to an idea. These seeds will be watered (or perhaps flooded) by more and more sexualised cultural messages until they grow to be part of the child’s belief system.
Many parents will maintain that these dolls are harmless but they are unaware of how values and beliefs develop over time.
What to Buy Instead
A doll. Just a doll. They look kinda daggy and boring compared to the above example, don’t they? Let’s bring them back. This sort of toy encourages age-appropriate role-play. What on earth do kids play with dolls who look like they are ready to hit the town? Nightclubs? Worse?
There is also a new range of dolls in Australia created as a healthier alternative and their slogan is quite lovely, “Be bold. Be brave. Be you”. These are worth a look as an alternative.
Don’t fall for the trap of believing dolls need to be the latest model that pees and poos, or even breastfeeds. Let’s leave something to the imagination, literally. The less a toy does the more it benefits the child.
And these also make great gifts…
Stacking dolls can be purchased at cute gift shops, small online businesses or even local markets and kids STILL love these.
With all toys we need to ask ourselves, What values do these toys represent? What positive or negative messages do they send? How do these compare to my value system?
For more information on what toys to avoid when shopping for kids this Christmas – check out my new eBook.
is a 90-page gift guide for the kids who have everything.
It offers thoughtful, eco-friendly, creative, ethical and frugal gift ideas for Christmas, birthdays, baby showers and special occassion.