Oopps. Ideas for dealing with my own hypocrisy re Media-Driven toys? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Basically, we embrace and try to follow most of the Waldorf principles about simplicity in general, and about avoidance of mass marketed, media-driven toys in particular.  It's rather challenging, as we all know, in this modern world.   I've been specifically wary of the over-hyped character type toys and clothing, and we have next to nothing of that sort in our home, but I recently had a bit of a learning moment. 

 

While shopping at our local thrift store, my 26 month old went wild over a Minnie-mouse doll that she saw.  So I let her hold it while we were in the store.  Usually, I do this, but we tell the toy "bye bye" when leaving, which results in an upset toddler, but the problem ends at the store.  This time, for some reason (mainly because my daughter was so emamored with Minnie, and because I was having a weak moment) I bought it for her.  That was about 4 days ago, and she has been smitten with Minnie ever since.  In hindsight, I realize it is because she recognized Minnie from a book we have at home (that I neglected to weed out), which I kept because it had pictures of trucks, but it has Mickey and Minnie too --- and she noticed.  None of the other characters mean anything to her, but I guess this resonated because of that one book that she recognized from home.  

 

Anyway, I've learned a few things from this -- mainly the infectious power of the character-driven tie-ins.  I have no doubt she'd be clamouring for Minnie mouse shampoo, cereal, tennis shoes, etc., if she saw those too.  I also learned that I need to develop some strategy for dealing with this.  Am I going to have a hard line (no mass marketed stuff in the house?), or allow some of it.  By buying the Minnie, I'm already allowing at least that.   Honestly, I'm torn.  My daughter seems to react with Minnie like she's an old friend -- this is different than she plays with her dolls and other animals.  Also the toy is genius, it has backback straps so she can wear her around, which my daughter loves of course.  4 months ago, I'd probably just realize my mistake and confiscate Minnie when she isn't looking, and hope she forgets about it.  Now, however, she remembers and looks for her Minnie when she wakes up.  I think the obvious answer is to just relax about the Minnie and follow her lead with it, trusting it is a phase.

 

What to do when this issue arises in the future, however, is another story.  Thoughts?  How do you deal with this?

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 09:01 AM
 
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I'm not one for "banning" toys, but I'm also not a fan of bells and whistles; when the choice is mine, I prefer that my kids have toys that require imagination rather than batteries, and for the most part, they are happy that way. My daughter has a few Barbies that she doesn't care much about, and a Snow White baby that she is very attached to. My son has a 'Mater truck (from the "Cars" movie) that talks and makes noise and does all kinds of other annoying things (a b-day gift from my ex-dh) that he plays with a lot, but he also has a massive collection of plain, ordinary Matchbox cars that are in constant rotation. Half the time, he ignores the noise makers on his 'Mater truck and uses it to "tow" his Matchbox cars and his beloved plastic (yeah, I know, plastic bad) dump truck. When I see him doing that, I feel like I've done a good job striking a balance between the more commercial toys that will, in spite of my best efforts, make their way into my children's lives, and the toys I choose for them, the ones that will develop their minds and foster their imaginations. 


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#3 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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I'm not a Waldorf parent, just interested in some aspects of it, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt.  Unless your daughter told you she wanted Minnie because she recognized the character from the book, you don't actually know that that is the reason.  Maybe there was just something about the toy that made it really appealing.  There's a reason why the Disney characters are so popular and it's not just marketing.

 

Personally, I think you should cut yourself some slack and let her enjoy the toy.  Until someone tells her differently it's just a cute mouse backpack.

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#4 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 10:35 AM
 
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My son felt the same way over a Buzz Lightyear toy. Five years later, he does not or has not clamored for all things Buzz or Toy Story. And he's seen the movies. I wouldn't worry too much.

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#5 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know, I agree the answer is to just relax and let it pass in time.  It feels like one of those wisdom-building moments for mama. 

 

I do totally agree that the reason those toys/characters are so appealing is because they are cleverly designed that way.  Mickey/Minnie, for instance, are very enticing with their big eyes, high contrast with black ears, etc.  I am, certain, however, that the reason she went nuts over it at the store is because she did recognize it from the book.  She immediately recognized it, and called it "My Minnie!" and I think that the toy came to life for her in a way other stuff hasn't because it seemed familiar and special because of the book.  Which, of course, is the whole appeal in the media-driven toys -- next thing she'll want everything Minnie, from toothpaste to clothing to videos, etc.  The truth is I'm probably more ok with Mickey/Minnie than anything else, but this has really opened my eyes to the power of the marketing tie-ins.

 

It just seems to me that in this modern world, you can be practically overwhelmed with media-driven hype without even trying.  Even making affirmative efforts to avoid/minimize it results in a household where my daughter still gets some of it-- so I guess that is why I am so vigilant. I know it is out there, and I know she will be exposed to much of it.  I just want to build as much of a haven for her as I can, as long as I can. 

 

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#6 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 12:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlsmama View Post

Which, of course, is the whole appeal in the media-driven toys -- next thing she'll want everything Minnie, from toothpaste to clothing to videos, etc.  The truth is I'm probably more ok with Mickey/Minnie than anything else, but this has really opened my eyes to the power of the marketing tie-ins.

 

It just seems to me that in this modern world, you can be practically overwhelmed with media-driven hype without even trying.  Even making affirmative efforts to avoid/minimize it results in a household where my daughter still gets some of it-- so I guess that is why I am so vigilant. I know it is out there, and I know she will be exposed to much of it.  I just want to build as much of a haven for her as I can, as long as I can. 

 

Babygirlsmama

 

 



It's challenging for sure.  But it can be done.  I have boys older than your child and they have not gone crazy for character stuff despite plenty of exposure to it.  You have plenty of time to build that haven, especially if you are planning on a Waldorf education.                         

 

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#7 of 13 Old 12-05-2011, 01:00 PM
 
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I've had a few similar changes of heart. Some things that seemed right at one point now seems controlling to me, and it feels to me sometimes that the control might be worse than the toy. But there is a balance, letting them have control over their own wants, likes, control their own things; and on the other hand having standards for their own well being. I try to find some balance but don't sweat it. I think having parents who are relaxed and go-with-the flow is good for kids so, though it is not always natural for me, I try to be that way with choices as much as seems practical.

 

I apologize now (this is an edit) because I am not a waldorf parent, though I have read and am interested in a lot of the issues brought up by that philosophy.

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#8 of 13 Old 12-09-2011, 07:52 AM
 
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We use Waldorf in the home, and if it bothers you enough to post here, I would "weed" the book and Minnie as soon as she loses interest, such as playing with another toy. It will be hard for her, but better on your instincts. We don't watch cable around our babe, so these issues have become irrelevant now, it also has helped her imagination grow, now she builds "castles" with blocks and her ostheimer figures become princesses :).


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#9 of 13 Old 12-14-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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We are actually a Montessori family, but I have a love for a lot of aspects of Waldorf. We have lots of playsilks, wooden Waldorf toys and figures, etc.  I remember as a kid having toys, but not an overwhelming amount of toys.  I remember lego's (before they were "sets"), all the usual boardgames, books of all kinds with all kinds of characters, dolls (all the classic one's from the 70's), Gnip Gnop, Hippity Hops, Barrel of Monkeys, Fisher Price Little People, Big Wheel, Easy Bake Oven, Light Bright, Charlie's Angels lunchbox (I actually re-purchased this on eBay years ago!), Donny & Marie dolls (never was a fan of Barbie), View Master, shrinky dinks, Sit & Spin....I could go on.  I LOVE looking at all those old vintage toys from the 70's (crazy thing is that I think they all still exist!) and someday I imagine my kids looking back fondly at their Littlest Pet Shops, Lalaloopsy dolls (they love the minis!), Disney Princess dress up dresses, Barbies (they have a few, but recently said we could donate about half of them! WOOT!)  I watched TV and was glued to Saturday Morning cartoons for hours!!  I honestly feel that growing up in the 70's was so amazing!  Remember Merlin and Atari! Fun stuff right there!

 

I remember my oldest (now 7) going through a phase of wanting Brat dolls when she was about 5.  I put my foot down and said ABSOLUTELY NOT! I really loathe those dolls.  My DW disagreed with me.  She said, "it's just a doll.  They won't kill her."  I just hate the message it sends that it's ok to look like a little hoochie mama!  I caved and tried to get her the one's that weren't so horrible looking.  I got her a Baby Brat, a snowboarding Brat, and a couple other of the most non-offensive one's I could find.  My DD is so NOT impressed with Brat's now.  In fact, we just did the "lets clean out your toys and donate to the children who don't have toys for Christmas" (read Goodwill) and she literally let me send away EVERY SINGLE BRAT DOLL SHE HAD (about 5 of them) and all their accessories.  I was shocked beyond belief, but I never saw her playing with them.  She said she didn't like them anymore.  Whoa! Cool!

 

She is heavily into art.  Like, seriously...I feel she is going to be an artist as an adult.  Get this...you know what she is asking for this Christmas?  Modeling beeswax, Rainbow Magic fairy books, and dresses.  Ok, so she did ask for a couple Lalaloopsy dolls and Littlest Pet Shops, but I like them.  They are cute, make no noise, and she and her sisters spend HOURS making up little scenes and using their imaginations with the dolls and pets.  

 

I guess what I'm getting at is that if your daughter loves her Minnie toy, let her play with it until she gets tired of it (it WILL happen!)  My MIL bought my youngest DD a freakin' stuffed Elmo doll that I practically died when I saw it.  She lost interest in about 3 months and then gave it to her baby niece (aww!)  Plus, Mickey and Minnie are classic characters!  I just got my kids a Tom & Jerry shirt from Old Navy because I loved that show as a kid (me and my Dad would laugh our heads off when watching it) and my oldest loves it, too.  Looking back I think, "Man, this show is rather violent", but I know that she knows it's not real (ie when Tom is turned into a waffle from a waffle iron).

 

I hope I didn't offend anybody.  I just wanted to give my .02 cents.  Feel free to completely ignore me!! ;)


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#10 of 13 Old 12-15-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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When mine was a toddler she fell in love with a plastic baby doll that wasn't in line with what I thought she should love, and couldn't have cared less about her pretty fabric doll and its wool curls. She was passionate about it for maybe two or three years. A wise Waldorf teacher told me that she had made the plastic baby beautiful with her love, and she was right. I think that the overall philosophy around toys is a sensible one - a child should have very few toys, mostly natural materials, mostly open ended that call to the imagination and the will. But I've grown to believe that you shouldn't let that philosophy go to the point where you are stomping on something that gives your child joy.

But I guess that wasn't really the question - it was more of a future question, right? I think the best way to try to avoid the conflict is to keep advertisements (all the way from television down to books and other images with marketing tie ins) away from little kids. Also to mostly avoid shopping with little kids (I know that's easier said than done) unless it's to a place where people make things (like a bakery, a seamstress, etc) or sell things they've made or grown. Grocery stores are horrible places for marketing tie ins (why wouldn't you buy that package of cookies with your lovely, furry friend on the box?) and little kids just don't have any ability to separate the advertisement from the warmth and love they feel.

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#11 of 13 Old 12-16-2011, 02:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cattmom View Post

A wise Waldorf teacher told me that she had made the plastic baby beautiful with her love, and she was right. I think that the overall philosophy around toys is a sensible one - a child should have very few toys, mostly natural materials, mostly open ended that call to the imagination and the will. But I've grown to believe that you shouldn't let that philosophy go to the point where you are stomping on something that gives your child joy.

 



I agree with this. I think people can take the general Waldorf philosophy -- natural materials, home-made, not too much, open-ended -- and make it way too doctrinair.

 

We may not find all toys aesthetically pleasing, but if a child loves them, I don't really see the problem. Yes, there are far too many media "tie ins" with toys, but it doesn't sound like the OP's DD is inundated with media, so I really don't think a beloved Minnie Mouse will lead to an obsession with Disney.

 

Basically, Waldorf is a wonderful approach to education and we are so glad we found it for our DS, who was so unhappy in a traditional school. But it really shouldn't become some kind of cult-like rigid guide to how to lead every aspect of your life. Not that the OP is doing that! But I think people can take things way further than is healthy for them or their children.

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#12 of 13 Old 12-22-2011, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Cattmom-- I love that observation, about making the plastic doll beautful with her love.  That is exactly what I have been thinking.  One of our Waldorf teachers basically said the same thing, that a child can redeem a toy through their love. 

 

I also read an article recently about when toys are given by relatives, and how to deal with that (if they are undesirable to you).  The article touched on something important, I think, which was that to show disapproval of the toy is confusing to the child because it can impact the child's relationship with the giver.  The suggestion, instead, was just to let the toy run it's course and send it away to "rest" when the child's interest wanes.  Which is what I am certain we will have to be doing this year.  We haven't opened up boxes yet from relatives, but I'm sure they contain some things that will give me heartburn! 

 

Wishing us all grace and wisdom as this holiday approaches!

 

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#13 of 13 Old 03-09-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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Eh.  I would just let her have it, and not really think too much of it. She's still pretty young, and chances are she will forget about it eventually. Most likely she'll encounter more D-stuff in the future anyhow.  Just keep the other toys you have in your home high quality and simple.  Do what feels best mama!

 

And what's funny about your story, is that I make Waldorf Dolls and Toys and yet my little boys still play with a few mainstream toys (with a house full of four boys under five I don't think I could ever get rid of Legos), yet my boys play and sleep with the dolls I make, they also play with all the toys I make.  Its just a balance ;)

 

HTH!

 


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