What should I do if my son is given an inappropriate toy?

It can be difficult when your child receives an inappropriate toy from a well-meaning relative or friend, particularly because your son will likely be very excited to take it out of the box and play with it right away. If it is a safety issue, politely explain to your son that while the toy is nice, it is not safe for him to play with. If the toy is not consistent with your values or is not age-appropriate, you need to be honest with the gift giver in a gracious manner. Your child will likely be upset, but as a parent, it is important that you feel comfortable with the toys your child plays with. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, and let him know that he can exchange it for something else. To avoid a similar situation in the future, try creating a wish list with you son to help your family and friends choose more appropriate gifts.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.