One year, we gave our four-year-old son his very own mini-tool set for Christmas, complete with a working hammer and hand saw. What were we thinking? We realized our mistake when our dining room table suddenly toppled over, missing one leg and my husband’s Sunday suit got snagged on a protruding nail. Clearly the gift was not age appropriate.
I recently heard about a little boy that was given his own electronic notebook for his seventh birthday. The kid was a whiz and expertly navigated through movies, YouTube videos, cartoons, and games. He was addicted to his notebook to the point that when he could not use it, he became petulant, defiant, and angry. One morning, after being told several times to get off his notebook and eat his breakfast, mom took the notebook away. Well, junior went into total Tasmanian Devil mode and ripped the kitchen apart, throwing dishes and food.
Junior’s behavior was a wake-up call for mom and dad. Just because he was able to navigate the notebook like a teenager, Junior was not prepared for it. The gift was not age appropriate because, as a seven-year-old, Junior lacked the ability to control his temper and manage his time. With some counseling, mom and dad understood that just because Junior wanted the gift, it was their job to say no until he was properly trained and ready for such a huge responsibility.
While many toys and electronics come with helpful age suggestions, do not trust in them alone for such an important decision. Ask yourself if the gift will encourage respect, develop character, waste time, or become a babysitter.
Vicki and her husband Terry are the parents of eight children and were named Colorado Parents of the Year and Family of the Year, 2001. Vicki is the author of two books, many articles, former talk show host, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. To get your parenting questions answered, write to Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.