GUEST POST: Playing with Toys & Your Kids

2 Sep

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“Of course some fortunate parents are able to enjoy their children most of the time,
even in adolescence.” (Spock, 1990)

.I’ve always wondered what makes kids and adults do the things they do. What was their favorite toy growing up? What instinctively told them what to do in any given situation, and does a toy influence the outcome of life? I am a toy designer/teacher, and here are some snippets of information I have collected and discovered over the years to better help you understand, as well as ideas for how to play with, toys and your kids.

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Why do we grow up?

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Why do we sometimes stop playing, learning, and experiencing new things as we reach adulthood? The background stems from childhood where creativity and play were the only things to do in a day—all through imagination, teaching, and creativity. Toys were/are a form of education for me. I believe that creativity is a part of our collective intelligence. Picasso liked to have toys throughout his studio in order to seek inspiration from them. Other less distinguished, but equally restless, adults find solace in a variety of toys, to soothe the nimble finger, or to occupy the darting mind. After all, if toys play an important part in our childhood fantasies, may we not suppose that toys can play an equally important part in our adult lives? Perhaps the father who plays for hours with his son’s toys is exercising an important therapy. Think of toys as emotional, mental, and sometimes physical therapy. You use your imagination, skills, and creativity, interact with people, and listen and grow with toys. Play with your kids, it will help you in so many ways.

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“The little world of childhood, with its familiar surroundings, is a model of a greater world.” (Carl Jung)

Some adults become so involved in the delicate creative world of toy making that they bring to it a talent for creation from the normal spheres of their life. This shows the enormous and immense hold the world of toys can have over the imaginations and talents of people engaged in other occupations. Toys can be a great learning or rejuvenating experience. You can begin to see a side of life not typically seen. You begin to become competitive again, create and have a renewed sense of humor, and begin to better understand your children. Because there is no racial bias, people react and interact together and learn together because toys are a way to hide or amplify what we really are. This explains the high curiosity and imagination with unusually high logic, and why some people are just not children any more. What playing enables a person to do is to have a sense of psychological and philosophical views combined with education, which helps us use our creativity as well as our imagination. Play with your kids, go shopping with them, and discover new things about toys and learning with them.

There are three stages of both growth and life. The first stage is learning, relating, and familiarizing. The second is using and creating. The third is analysis and knowledge. They may have a little retrograde, then the cycle repeats itself. I believe as we get older our bodies both physically and mentally begin to reverse. As you get older, you have experienced a lot as a whole and will return to the points that were the most creative or where the most learning originated. Whether at school or playing, both are a learning experience. As people get older, or as the child matures, society and the environment play a greater role. Toys of childhood are replaced with their collected objects of time, where they are used as an object of security. As one cannot fit the mold of society with the maturity of a child, people become stagnant and replace toys with other items. Only when we see other adults playing with toys is it all right to join in.

Invent new ways to play with toys and games. Think differently, role-play, and experiment with all kinds of toys. Even if you don’t have kids, toys are a way of discovering who you are and may want to be. Go ahead and play, you will feel and look younger, but best of all, you will have a big smile on your face.

About The Guest Blogger:

Peter Wachtel (a.k.a.) “KID Toyology is an award-winning creative toy and entertainment designer, inventor, and teacher. He has designed more than 500 products for the toy, entertainment, and design education industries, many of which can be found at KidToyology.com. Peter was recently the chair/academic director and design instructor at Ai Hollywood for Graphic & Industrial Design, and has taught toy design at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and Otis College of Art & Design.

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