We begin this article by asking you a question – When was the last time that you played with a toy? Chances are it was a long time ago. But if we ask you to remember your favorite toys from your childhood we are sure you’d say yes. Everyone has little or complete memories of toys that they loved playing with as a child. For some of you it could have been a doll or a stuffed bear while for the others it could have been a plastic soldier, race car or a tricycle. The point is that it does not matter what your toy was but that you made an emotional connect with the toy and you still remember it.
Today we want to explore this connection and try and understand how this connection has affected our lives. There is a huge debate about gender neutral toys and whether toys affect our career choices. We will be writing about those aspects in another post but for the purposes of this post we will solely concentrate on the emotional aspect of the debate.
Toys can be objects of undivided attention, education and entertainment for kids. It is no wonder then that we form an emotional bond with our toys that sometimes last for a lifetime and in some cases passed from one generation to the other. While there is no one specific answer for why we form such a strong bond with our favorite toys, some say we remember these toys because all our five senses come in contact with the toys while growing up. This experiential learning then forms the basis for permanent learning or at least some form of learning and recall.
While we are no experts, we have a theory that may or may not be correct. We believe we remember our favorite toys because of the way our parents/guardians made us engage with the toys. In other words it was not the toy itself but the memories associated with the toys of our parents/grandparents/guardians. For example you could remember your childhood tricycle/bicycle not because it was fun riding it but because your mom/dad taught you to ride it. Or you may remember that teddy because someone close to you was the voice of the teddy that told you stories.
In any case one thing that is established is that a toy that a kid plays with affects his/her development more than you think. Thus, it is very important to choose the right toys for your kids. Another thing that is very important is that the kids need to be taught the right ways of using a toy. The base line is that the parents need to talk about what they want the child to learn and to decide how a child should interact with the toy. The parents should do the talking and the toys should be the face of the voice. Remember, a kid’s favorite toy will remember his/her favorite toy for a long time. You want it to be a nice memory.