Former Play Therapist Shares The 5 Toys Parents Should Never Buy Their Kids

Sarah Kester
Child with toys
Unsplash | Yuri Shirota

Toys are a huge part of Christmas and gift-giving in general. 

Just consider Jingle All the Way, which saw Arnold Schwarzenegger go on a crazy adventure to get his son the toy he forgot to get. Or A Christmas Story, which had Ralphie pine over a Red Ryder BB gun. 

Toys are a great way to express love to kids. But before parents race out to the store, there’s actually a guide they should be following. 

Here are the five toys they should never buy, according to a play therapist.

Believe it or not, such a thing as a "play therapist" exists.

Woman playing with toys with kids
Unsplash | Marisa Howenstine

This is a therapist that uses play activities to help uncover psychological issues with children. Someone who belongs to that profession is an expert called Amy who posts on TikTok under the username @amysgiftideas.

With Christmas right around the world, she understands that parents want to please their kids by buying them new toys.

A mother and child trying to clean up toys
Giphy | Story of This Life

But this may actually be doing more harm than good, especially if they buy the wrong ones. To help parents shop smart, she shared her tips in a video posted online.

In the viral video, she listed the five types of toys that she believes parents should avoid.

Amy with a noisy toy in the background
TikTok | @amysgiftideas

The first one is noisy plastic toys (we can hear the relieved sigh from parents everywhere now). "Other than being annoying for parents, they're also not great for kids," she said.

"Studies show that they can be overwhelming to children, especially young kids, and they also can delay language development."

Jack in the box scaring kid

Next up are toys with a lot of pieces (parents are used to stepping on them). "Kids cannot handle too many options."

"Studies show that when they have too many options available to them, they're more likely to just make a mess and walk away because they lose focus, they get distracted, or they get overwhelmed," Amy explained.

Amy showing princess toys behind her
TikTok | @amysgiftideas

"It's just too much for them."

Grandparents, listen up, this next tip is for you: avoid big toys.

Girl driving a huge toy car

"Grandparents are notoriously guilty of giving big toys because they want to give something that seems really big and impressive." She added that those big toys are only going to take up a lot of space.

She explained that kids actually thrive in play spaces that are less cluttered and don't have as many options around.

Big toys as gift to avoid
TikTok | @amysgiftideas

Instead, she likes to give children toys that can be easily put away ⁠— a win-win for parents who prefer less clutter.

"While there's a lot of value in these big toys that promote open-ended play, I'm going to let the parents choose what they want in their space."

Child playing with toys
Unsplash | Paige Cody

She also advises against children any sort of instructions when giving them a present. h

Her reasoning is that you should always promote "creativity and independence."

Amy explaining gift ideas
TikTok | @amysgiftideas

The fourth kind of gift the play therapist advises against is "any kind of gift that comes with an instruction or an obligation of my expectation of how, or when, or where they're going to use it."

"For example, I'm not going to get a child an outfit and say 'You could wear this on the first day of school," she explained.

Ralphie dressed as a bunny

"Or giving them a stuffed animal and saying 'This is for you to sleep with every night.'"

The final kind of toy parents should avoid giving their little ones is a gift that only offers a small amount of value.

In other words, any toy that gives them about five minutes of fun before they get bored and move on to something else.