When parents find themselves cash-poor, they become reticent to spend money on items they consider unnecessary, extravagant, or lacking in utility. But regardless of the economy, most parents will need to purchase items for their growing children over the course of a year, including everything from school supplies to clothing to toys or games that keep their youngsters entertained. For those looking to sell toys, it’s important to know what parents really want in the things they choose to spend their hard-earned cash on and what parents think makes a good toy.
Feature #1: It is worth the money.
This first feature seems obvious, but it’s important that toys parents choose are not breakable and are sturdy enough to maintain their quality, even with the rough ways children often handle them. Not only do parents want to spend money on things that will stand the test of time, but children appreciate being able to work with and play with the toy or game for a long time. Being worth the money also means that the toy is safe for the age it is intended so that parents will feel comfortable allowing their children to engage with the toy or game independently. It should be attractive, well-made, and have an engaging aesthetic that will encourage play. Depending on the toy, this may include pleasing shapes, colors, textures, and sounds. One needs only to look at the social media Instagram following of some brands to understand the importance of value to parents.
Feature #2: It maintains a simplicity that leads to creativity and challenge.
When a toy or building set is complicated, it often leaves little room for creativity. Sets that must be put together in one way in order for them to work or be operable does not allow for the spark of innovation that keeps a child coming back again and again to the activity. Wooden blocks, legos, even Lincoln logs have stood the test of time because they challenge children to think of new and interesting ways to use them and can be designed redesigned in many ways. The active use of the mind means that children will not grow bored with the toy, allowing them to explore options for use over time. While electronic toys can be interesting and flashy in the short run, they are often “short on imagination and long on complexity” making some of them unlikely candidates for years of use. Toys that make kids think will get played with longer and more often, encouraging the growth of the attention span, language development, and social engagement.
Feature #3: It encourages and stimulates the imagination.
Not only is it important that toys inspire the imagination so as to encourage problem-solving and critical thinking and creativity, parents appreciate that imaginative toys and activities keep children entertained longer. Children who play with simpler toys, often called “open-ended toys” that can be used in a variety of ways develop and consider a wider range of ideas and scenarios that encourage brain growth, experience greater growth in language and social skills. These types of toys also help to foster social skills, as imaginative play often draws in peer or partner play with parents, other children, and adult caregivers. Toys that encourage fantastical play challenges a child to do, to think, and to feel, allowing them to adopt a range of personas, explore roles, and develop language skills as they engage alone or with others.
Feature #4: It contributes to the holistic development of children.
Toys that contribute holistically encourage physical, mental, social, and emotional growth and are valuable means to developmental progress. Too often, people focus on the ability of toys to entertain children, forgetting the value toys have in developing a wide range of skills. Toys that get kids up and moving combat increasing numbers of child obesity cases. Toys that encourage peer play help the social development of children. Games that encourage turn-taking and good winning allow for emotional development. Toys and games and activities are not meant only to distract children, but actually become part of the “work” of children as they move toward maturity in all of the developmental domains.
Feature #5: It fits a child’s interests, talents, abilities, knowledge, and size.
Like Jizels, personalized toys that provide a “fit” for a child’s interests and talents are important. Toys and games that capitalize and expand what a child already knows are going to be chosen by the child again and again as they build on prior knowledge. Toys that encourage questions allow a child to build on their abilities and strengths by allowing exploration without offering ready-made answers or solutions. In doing so, they grow a child’s ability to problem solve, encourage increasing attention span, and improve resilience and “stick-to-it-iveness.”
What are some toy features you love? Feel free to share here.