Toy Ideas for Struggling Children

Loretta Jane

Toy Ideas for Struggling Children

Whether you’re buying a toy for a birthday or a holiday, there’s always pressure to make sure you get it just right. No matter what, it can be a daunting task to find out things that are popular if you’re out of the loop, never mind actually getting it before it disappears from shelves. Difficulties are compounded even further if the child you have in mind is struggling in some way, either from special needs, difficult circumstances, or a mental illness such as depression. The last thing you want is to provide them with something that they are indifferent to, or worse, that adds to their frustration. Luckily, there are some generally safe types of toys that can help children who need it.

Embrace the Arts

Children are creative by nature and tend to embrace artistic activity. Art therapy can benefit children in a multitude of ways, from improving cognitive abilities, dealing with stress, expressing feelings, and much more. This is something you may want to keep in mind while searching for your perfect gift.

When it comes to younger children there are of course tried and true staples like Crayons or Play Doh. As they get older, they will naturally want to explore new, more challenging concepts. For the more visually oriented, you may want to invest in something like a sketchbook with multiple drawing pencils or a paint kit. For those who have a gift for storytelling and/or the written word, you may want to look into books that will help them express themselves with stories. Most children are interested in music, so introducing them to an instrument can be a great idea. Just make sure that you ask first if you are not a parent of the child. The last “gift” you want to give is an unwelcome responsibility.

Of course, in the digital age, there are plenty of programs and apps that can help children express themselves. The GarageBand music app is free on Apple devices, as well as Photoshop Sketch. Consider introducing simple computer games such as solitaire to your children to get their minds going and their creativity flowing.

Solve Problems and Build Resiliency

Children naturally enjoy games of all kinds, and these are a great way to teach them problem solving skills and build character. Everyone enjoys a good brain teaser, and there are plenty of games from Checkers to Monopoly that children can enjoy with their families and friends to learn how to deal with situations as they happen. Conversely, no one likes to lose, but introducing children to the concept safely and in a fun way builds character.

Of course, children will be on their own at times, and solo play can be just as important. For younger children, staples like building blocks or doll houses are a great way to let a child use their imagination and explore. As they get older, you may want to have them try more complex toys like the Rubik’s cube or solo card games.

Everyday Heroes

All children need good role models, both real and fictional. This is especially true of children who feel isolated. You can’t be around all the time, so it’s important for your children’s play time to instill good values, whether that’s saving the day with an optimus prime toy or helping a patient with a doctor kit.

In addition to instilling good values, pretend play like this can reduce anxiety as well as help children cope with feelings they may not understand yet. Some say laughter is the best medicine, and in cases of psychological or emotional trauma this can be true. Whether they’re creating stories with their Lego projects, pretending to be princesses, or saving the earth from assured destruction, letting children just use their imagination can do a world of good.

As for one final suggestion, try not to overthink this. It’s easy to worry if a child will grow bored of a toy quickly, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’ll have to get creative to entertain themselves, and that’s a skill we all need.