Shopping for toys during the holiday season always takes a bit of resourcefulness. You need to learn what’s new, what’s out, what’s flying off the shelves - and then carefully consider whether your purchase will add to your child’s entertainment stockpile. But if you have a child with special needs, especially one who is struggling with depression, finding the right toy can feel even more daunting.
Though there are many different kinds of games and toys, here are 8 categories that I teach parents to consider thinking about when holiday shopping. These themes help with healing and are also super fun too.
These special categories of toys and games give depressed children a healthy way of distancing themselves from sadness. When you sit and play with your depressed child, your time and attention helps with their healing.
Remember, for children, toys are their words and play is their conversation.
Drake, J. & Winner, E. (2012). How children use drawing to regulate their emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 1-9.
Hall, T.; Kaduson, H.G. & Schaefer, C.E. (2003). Fifteen effective play therapy techniques. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6):515-522.
Lenze, S.N.; Pautsch, J. & Luby J. (2011). Parent-child interaction therapy emotion development: a novel treatment for depression in preschool children, Depression and Anxiety, 28(2): 153-159.
Dr. Deborah Serani is a psychologist and author of the award-winning books Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers and Living with Depression by Rowman & Littlefield.