Toys that require brain power do your kid the most favors.

Toys That Affect Children's Behavior

by Kathryn Hatter

The toys you choose to fill your shelves and toy box with can have a major impact on your little one’s behavior. Choose wisely in the toy store or you may be dealing with a tyrannical tot who doesn’t understand how to play nicely with others. By avoiding specific toys, you should be able to steer clear of aggression and violent behavior that you don’t want to see in your child.


Toys that simulate weapons, such as guns, knives and slingshots, can encourage violent play and behaviors. Even comparatively innocent toys like squirt guns can lead to aggressive play in your kids. The aggression is even more likely to happen if your kids regularly watch violence on television because kids tend to act out what they see. The TVO Parents website suggests that parents can guide kids to have a less violent and aggressive approach when using toys like squirt guns. For example, if the focus is on hunting each other down and attacking with blasts of water, this might be over-the-top aggression with a negative intent. On the flip side, if kids are just innocently trying to get each other wet on a hot day, the play has a comparatively positive spin.

Action Figures

It’s common for boys to grab a handful of action figures and get busy acting out scenarios that depict right and wrong and a triumph of good over evil. The Focus on the Family website observes that girls usually avoid these violent play scenarios while boys often feel the need to act out all the nitty-gritty details. It’s okay to let this happen if your kid seems driven to engage in this type of play. Just make sure that the play doesn’t morph into anything destructive or scary. Another heads up: kids who watch violence on television are more likely to use action figures in a destructive fashion. Kids who don’t view violence on TV tend to play with action figures in a more positive way.

Educational Toys

The toys that teach your child skills or get her doing something are the educational toys that have value. These toys can teach skills -- sorting, shapes, pushing, pulling, building, fitting pieces, stacking or counting -- which build confidence and give your little one immediate benefits like determination and resolution. Developmental toys require thinking and then following through with an action to get the desired result. CBS News suggests that parents choose toys for toddlers and preschoolers that teach skills because a young child’s brain will grab hold of these permanent marks and carry through with them all the way to adulthood.

Entertaining Toys

Although blinking and blaring toys are entertaining, they lack a certain ingredient that teaches cause and effect, according to the Zero to Three website. Although it’s great fun to see bright red and blue lights flashing and funky noises blasting, these toys lack the connection between the effect -- the lights or sounds -- and the action required to make the effect. This disconnect can be confusing for your little one, which may result in him just sitting and watching the action instead of trying to manipulate the toy to make it work.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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