Toys & Games: What is the right balance for Christmas?

What a joy for parents to see their children, with stars full of eyes, unpack their Christmas gifts! But to want to please them, one is sometimes tempted to do too much. But this excess of generosity does not make them happier, quite the contrary. So, how to spoil them without rotting them? The point with Jean-Baptiste Loubeyre, a child psychiatrist at Avicenne Hospital Bobigny.

Children’s games and toys: How many Christmas gifts can be offered to children?

It is not so much the quantity that matters, it is rather to find something that corresponds to the child. Some parents do not pay enough attention to their child’s interests and tend to offer things that they think are normal to offer. Yet the tastes of a child emerge very early in relation to circumstances, what happens in nurseries or schools. In seeking to please him, the parent recognizes the child for what it is. And the latter will be grateful. As for baby’s first Christmas, there’s no need to do too much. What is especially appealing to very young children is the packaging of gifts, the festive atmosphere, and contact with the parents.

With the advertisements that invade our screens, it is sometimes difficult to know if the wish formulated by the child is a whim or arises from a real interest in the game or the toy in question …

With fashionable toys, you have to find a limit. Some children will succeed in building a universe from what is imposed from the outside and pursue collections, as with the Hello Kitty phenomenon. But when one feels that there is an external constraint which causes the child to be interested in it, it is not worth insisting. The interest in the toy will fall very quickly.

Children’s games and toys: should we give priority to certain gifts?

It is better to be wary of everything that is screens and game consoles and privilege gifts that allow the child to think and create. For thought is constructed in active play, not in passive play. Of dolls, animals, a beautiful felt box may well be enough to make him happy.

What impact can an overabundance of games and toys on child development have?

We really have to distinguish between the jubilation of the child who wants to have everything and what he really needs. In his letter to Santa, it is normal that the child formulates a multitude of wishes. But all his desires must not be satisfied. If the child feels he can have everything, then he will automatically want more. Frustration is inherent in life. The important thing is to be able to satisfy ourselves with things we have and not to run after those we will never have. It is, therefore, necessary to resist the pleasure of saturating the child with gifts, especially as donors can be multiplied: separated families, grandparents, cousins …

To “fix” an absence, some parents are tempted to cover their children with gifts. What do you think?

Buying things to fill an absence never works. At some point, parents can be caught in a gear where the child, asking for more and more, seeks to verify the love of his parents. We must say to him: ” It is because I do not give you that I do not love you “. It is preferable to explain to him the reasons for his absence and to arrange a time with him.

Suggest to children to offer gifts at Christmas, such as a drawing or a poem for example, is it a good idea?

Yes, that may be a good idea. After that, it all depends on the family cultures that are sometimes linked to religion. In some families, children are encouraged to sort through their toys and give them to those who are not fortunate enough to have them. This ritual inscribes the child in a relationship of reciprocity. Some parents encourage older children to sell the toys they no longer need and replace them with the money they collect. The children thus appropriated their gifts and can do what they want afterward. They are accountable.

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