Every parents dream is to shower their children with toys and games that they will hopefully love and cherish…and not destroy. Dream…yes, but what is the reality?
Remember the first time your child repeated something you said and you were in disbelief? For instance, “what the heck?” or “would you listen to me already?” All people are born with MIRROR NEURONS. The medical definition is as follows: aneuron found in the cerebral cortex that is active when one performs an action or when one witnesses another performing the same action, and whose function is thought to be involved in acquiring language and the ability to empathize. An example is when you see someone yawn and then suddenly you do too!
What is the connection between these mirror neurons and kids and their toys?
Did you ever notice that when a child plays with a car, he/she will act like a car? When a child plays with a superhero, they suddenly begin to act like a superhero. When children play with baby dolls, they act like a mommy or a daddy. Children mimic when they play and this is a perfectly normal and appropriate part of development.
There are, however, many occasions when a child is not capable of mimicking in an appropriate manner. They may become overly excited, violent, mean, or even cry and become extremely sad. These dysregulated behaviors may, in fact, be a direct result of the particular type of toy you gave to your child.
At Brainchild Institute, we notice that many children have a tendency to be obsessed with dinosaurs, superheroes, video games that include shooting and killing, and anything else that may incite fear and anger. Playing with these types of toys can stimulate the brainstem, or “fight or flight” part of the brain, and bring out aggressive responses in kids or overstimulate a child who already has a “hot brainstem.” Rather than a desire to “play”,there is a need to transform and morph into an uncontrolled being that may jump off the back of the couch, hit a sibling over the head with a sword, or even crash into a friend without the forethought that one or both may end up hurt.
How does one manage this?
It is a fortunate, but unfortunate situation for a parent. First, you must become aware if your child/children are affected in this extreme way. The second step you must take is to monitor what toys your child plays appropriately and inappropriately with, even if it means you must eliminate some of their favorites. The third step is to model safe and appropriate play with him or her. Show them how to have fun, use their creativity, and direct their energy in a more positive, peaceful, and loving manner.
As we continue down the technological road in society, remember to go back to your grass roots. Build a sandcastle, and bring the prince and princess with their horse and carriage to live in it. Make a shopping mall out of some big boxes. Go outside and run around playing hide-and-go-seek dressed up in funny costumes. Kick a ball back and forth or do cartwheels in the grass until you can’t see straight!
Fix it before it’s broken or just never let it happen.