Aug 31, 2018
I have 2 children, the eldest is nearly 16 years old and my youngest is 8 years. Like most Z generation children both had loads of toys as young children. Of course their grandparents (like most baby boomers) would suggest they were “spoilt” because in their day, they didn’t have much. For me, the in between generation – I had toys of too. More than my parents, but certainly no-where near what my children had.
Not only is it the number of toys which differs considerably from each generation to the next, but the type of toys (and of course the cost). Today, the toys of choice nearly all revolve around technology and gaming consoles. A far cry from my space invaders “brick” that took 4 X D size batteries!
In an increasingly technological world, children tend to spend so much of their time inside often on devices or watching TV. This is compounded by the fact the world just doesn’t seem to feel as “safe” as it used to, and so as parents it’s easier to know our children are “safe” inside. Of course this is mainly due to the fact the world is a much smaller place too, with all aspects of the media intruding on our lives on a daily basis informing us of what’s happening across the country and overseas. However, the result is that our children are separated from nature and reality, and are instead connecting with an imaginary or virtual world. Not only can this negatively impact relationships, it can have a broader impact on wellbeing leading to low self-esteem, mood disturbance, anxiety and even physical problems associated with a lack of vitamin D, and lack of exercise. The solution? Connect them with nature, get them outside more and choose toys which engage their intellect and creativity.
As I reflect on my childhood, as well as my children’s younger years – there is one type of toy that undoubtedly fits this description and passes the test of time.
Wooden toys were a feature of my childhood. And as far as I recall I think even my parents have fondly referred to their wooden dolls, cars and puzzles at some stage. Now, with my children, I can’t help by feel comforted by a familiarity as I reflect on their favourite toys.
My favourite toy as a child was my wooden dolls house. It would provide hours and hours of entertainment, as I decorated and redecorated lounge rooms/bed rooms and created complex family narratives involving my dolls. Similarly, my son’s wooden train set would occupy him for hours on end. As a toddler he would experiment with the taste of the tracks and carriages, until he discovered quite quickly how far he could actually throw them (without breaking them!). As he got older, he would spend hours constructing tracks around items of furniture with the help of his older sister.
Wooden toys. They are timeless, transcending generations. They are durable – obviously my son found this out at an early age. Despite its battled history his favourite wooden train set still sits in our shelves ready for any young child who visits (and at the age of 8, he never declines an opportunity to show his younger cousins and friends how it’s done).
The benefits of wooden toys don’t end there. Today more than ever children need to feel connected with the outdoors, and so bringing the outside inside by providing wooden toys provides a way of connecting them with the outdoors – with nature.
So, instead of always heading for the popular choice driven by social media and marketing, parents should take time to reflect on their own childhood and the toys which not only stand the test of time, but are durable and provide an opportunity for children to channel their creativity. Something that most “modern” toys don’t provide. By choosing toys made from sustainable timber parents are providing their children with the opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Actually, I wonder where my wooden dolls house is? Might be time for some re-decorating.
Leanne Hall is an integrative psychologist who specialises in the combination of mental health, nutrition and fitness. Leanne is committed to motivating her patients to achieve a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. She has worked extensively for Channel 10 as their Mind & Body Expert on The Living Room.