Visiting my 6-year-old grandson a few months ago I found it challenging to move beyond his focus on the superpowers of various commercial characters to the natural and creative world.
Fortunately, he loves to hike and bike, and the shift happened as we explored a rocky beach in Puget Sound. His grandpa found a natural prop — seaweed shaped like a beard and, to the intense amusement of our grandson, he wore it. Naturally our grandson took a turn wearing the “beard." That broke the superpower obsession, and he was soon happily collecting shells, rocks and driftwood.
The rest of the day remained in a much more imaginative state of mind as we had a rainy picnic and hiked around a lake.
As we enter a season of intense marketing to children, consider countering that with ideas from the Center for A New American Dream. The center suggests focusing on toys that require creativity to be fully imagined, such as blocks and art supplies. You may wish to avoid toys with a media hook. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood director Susan Linn, suggests that the toy be 90 percent child and 10 percent toy.
When watching a movie or video with your children set limits around the marketing “extras." If the film is based on a book, have them read the book first so they envision their own characters and places.
The Center for a New American Dream has two resources which folks may find helpful. One is a guide for parents, “Kids Unbranded — Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture." The center also provides a “Simplify the Holidays” calendar which has tips for reducing your holiday stress each day.