Toys That Develop Creativity & Intelligence
Originally published November 14 2013
(NaturalNews) This holiday season is fast approaching. There are avenues that enhance the creative, intelligent, emotional and spiritual development of children other than expensive toys and/or caving in to slick marketing advertising that convinces parents to purchase the latest toys and gadgets. As a psychologist, I spend the majority of my time retraining people and children’s bad behavior which arises out of the skills missed in childhood that are circumvented, repressed or ignored. These skills include coping, executive, language and communication, emotional regulatory, cognitive flexibility and social. Most of these skills are acquired through children’s PLAY. Here is a litmus test to guide consumers on purchases and activities that enhance creativity and intelligence and promote a healthy psyche.
Clever Toy Marketing Strategies
If children are to develop a healthy, wholesome value system and psyche and enhance creativity and intelligence, then the toys purchased need to be scrutinized by adults. Clever marketing campaigns convince consumers into spending thousands of dollars on toys and trinkets as the means to raise happy, healthy, spiritual children while subliminally promoting a pattern of long term behavior to constantly consume, crave more, bigger and better rather than nurturing the creative world of the child. An article in Forbes Magazine discussed the ‘new’ strategies for selling toys for four to seven-year-old children in order to create a new generation of lifetime consumers, turning the work of Joseph Chilton Pearce in his book Magical Child inside out. The clever strategies focus on developing products that target the deficiencies in our culture – spiritual, emotional, bonding, socialization, family relationships and community. The lines between these deficiencies and capitalism, between hero/heroine, saint and sinner/evil doer are blurred in advertising, programming, media, movies and toys. The delineation line requires advanced discrimination skills which children do not possess. Today, at every turn children are offered a confusing mix of (un) healthy spirituality, emotionality, common sense, morality and entertainment. George Lucas befriended and capitalized on Joseph Campbell’s mythological heroes in the Star Wars epics. Harry Potter “muddles” the line between spiritual practices and black and white magic while selling millions of dollars in “back-end” products to children. Adults are the main interpreters of choosing the best modalities for their child, not corporations.
Entertainment vs. Play
A major source of confusion among parents is the difference between entertainment (being the observer and acted upon) and play (being an active participant). A more comprehensive description of the two can be found in Playing By Heart: Vision and Practice of Belonging by Dr. O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D. PLAY is imperative in integrating culture, rules and spiritual laws and allowing the soul to emerge. Play is the means by which a child becomes master of the world. Play is the source of richness of a child to mimic real world circumstances. It is the greatest source of learning. Habits developed during play become incorporated in adult daily life. However, real play contains no rules, no guidelines. It is unorganized and spontaneous. It enables the child the freedom of exploration. Obviously, this definition eliminates those toys sold in the marketplace with fixed and immutable rules. In the long run, entertaining children develops behavior patterns which keep the child in need of more stimulation from external sources and less reliant on their “inner voice,” “intuition” and creativity.
Less Is More
The objects of play must be simple and safe, allow imagination to flourish, freedom of movement and range of complexity. The colors, materials, textures, size and shape of the play object are just as important. The more extreme from “nature” the toy, the less value it has in play. Simple, natural materials with earth tones and earthy materials are all characteristics that develop the brain, eye-hand coordination, heart, imagination and joy of expression. (These are the skills that are necessary when boredom, confusion or depression sets in.) (Read Full Article)