Comfort for Christmas


Dear Grandparenting: Every year I find myself wondering what in the world to buy my grandkids for Christmas. I don’t mean basics like clothes. I set out to give them something they will use and enjoy.

But that’s easier said than done. I struck out more than once. Daniel didn’t like the little doctor kit. Ethan never used that baseball glove and Emily is always picky.

They have enough electronic gizmos that make loud noises and things with little screens — more than enough if you ask me. I hope you can come to my rescue with some great Christmas gifts for my little ones. Laura Best, Dayton, Ohio

Dear Laura: The big news from the Christmas toy front is the new crop of toys targeting a youngster’s social and emotional development — soothing, supportive playthings that help kids cope with the hand the pandemic has dealt them.

There’s Big Feelings Pineapple, a take-off on Mr. Potato Head that comes with dozens of emotions, and TeeTurtle reversible plushies, a line-up of stuffed cats, unicorns and octopuses that flip between happy and angry. Pawz the Calming Pup guides children through breathing exercises and doubles as a night light. That’s just for starters.

As children transition back to the classroom after nearly two years of remote learning, the toy industry has gone into overdrive developing products to meet the new needs of times — helping youngsters regulate and make sense of their emotions and concerns.

According to industry executives, this is just the start of a seismic change, shifting the way kids play for the foreseeable future.

It’s been a profitable time for toy industry. Revenue jumped 16% last year to a record $25.1 billion, and was 26% in the first half of 2021. Besides the new focus on emotional wellbeing, toymakers are trending toward products that keep youngsters entertained without screens, “weaned from the screen” as they say. Medical professionals have long been concerned about kids who spend their lives glued to TVs, computers and cell phones, risking delayed language and social skills.

Grand remark of the week

Sandy Davis from The Villages, Florida weighed in with this report:

“Here’s how much my husband loves the grandkids. He’ll watch cartoons with them on TV when they drop in and totally forget about that football game he was dying to see.”

Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.

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