What makes a toy or playground bad?

For the past few months I have been noticing a lot of blogs posting about how horrible main stream toys are or how boring playgrounds are. While reading this I started to doubt myself as a mom. Am I hurting my kids by buying them toys? Is it a bad that my kids beg to go to the playground everyday? How is it horrible that my kids beg to go play outside on slides and swings? I always thought that the point was to get them moving and away from the TV. I thought the worry in general was the childhood obesity rate. When did it become the fact that my kids like fire trucks and swings?

Well, I am here to assure the moms that are asking the same questions, you are NOT alone! I feel the same way you do. I don’t understand what the deal is. My kids love the playground. My kids equally love the main stream toys.

No, I get what the general concession is for those bloggers/moms. I despise toys with batteries. I have been known to make them disappear or tell my children that when the batteries die the sounds is dead forever. But, I also love the fact that the firefighter can turn anything into a spaceship. The other day he was playing with his Lego fire truck and was using the water spouts as the thrusters for a spaceship. The princess the other day turned her shopping cart into a sled on her carpet of snow in her room. How has buying my kids main stream toys stunted their creativity?

When we visit a park my kids will play for hours. They never seem to get bored. I never hear, ‘mommy, I am tired. Please take me home.’ In general I hear, ‘mommy come push me’,  ‘Mommy watch me go down the slide’, ‘Mommy can you help me slide down the fireman’s pole’ and any other amount of ‘mommy’ statements. I have seen many games of tag, the wood chips turned into lava, new friends made, and fears conquered.

Now, The princess has no fear. She will try everything no matter what the danger is. The firefighter on the other hand, has a lot of fear and anxiety. He is not one to just jump into something new. He likes to watch others try first and even then most times gives into fear and doesn’t try it. I have also seen him conquer those fears on a plain old playground. I have seen him take 30 minutes to go down the tunnel slide but he did it and once he did he hasn’t looked back. I have seen a playground help my son become more self-assured and outgoing. I have seen it give him an outlet for the never-ending need to move. I have seen it help him calm himself when his senses are going haywire. Climbing up slides and swinging have been proven by many OT’s as a good calming act for sensory sensitive kids. How has playing on playgrounds hurt my kids?

Now, on the other hand I understand how main stream toys and parks can be bad. Many parks are not kept up. They are dirty and the equipment is broken. Those parks are a problem. I can see how those are bad.

Main stream toys, well I have mixed feels about them. I like some of them. I don’t see how they constrict imagination. I have only ever experienced my kids imaginations be helped and encouraged. Maybe this comes from the type of mom I am and the kind of TV I allow my kids to see. I honestly don’t know for sure.

I guess what I am trying to say with this is, if your kids play at parks and with main stream toys they aren’t being hurt. Imaginations will be used if allowed in any play situation. It isn’t about the fact that my kids play with plastic toys and yours only have wooden ones. It is about how we encourage our kids to play with the toys that they have. It is about allowing our kids to just play. Keeping them safe but also allowing for them to explore and experience fear and success.

What are some things that your kids have turned ‘regular’ toys into?


8 thoughts on “What makes a toy or playground bad?

  1. I love this! And absolutely agree! My daughter’s playroom is packed with “non-battery” mainstream toys, and she is so creative and imaginative with them! And we LOVE playgrounds! It allows them to get outside and sharpen their gross motor skills while also using their imaginations! What’s not to love? Great post!


  2. I agree that we need to keep “practical” in motherhood, otherwise, it just gets too complicated and overwhelming! Little Bee and I love to visit the playground! He adores the swings and watching the other children play. I think playgrounds are WONDERFUL places and plastic toys can be really fun too! Little Bee has a plastic ball game that is one of his favorite toys. We will even keep it for the next child! 🙂


  3. I agree! In a perfect world, all kids would be able to play freely and safely in nature. We live in the city – the playground is about as “nature-y” as we can get. I think it’s just about doing the best you can with what you have. Great post!


  4. Agreed! Everything in context. And, how is playing at a park outside getting exercise a bad thing? I’ve seen my kids turn a playground into a jungle, a pirate ship and a volcano. We as parents put too many blocks on kids!


  5. I too have been reading such postings lately. I am not one to argue so I have kept silent in responses. I am so glad you wrote this–I couldn’t agree more!!


    • You’re welcome! I knew I couldn’t be the only one that was wondering those things!


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