There’s nothing that will brighten up your little one’s day like a brand new toy. But as they transition into their tween years (8-12 years), their old favourite toys get shoved to the back of the cupboard, completely forgotten, and they start to get harder to shop for. . By the time teenage years roll around, you’re probably struggling to get them off a screen and back into toys at all.
Tweens and teens are starting to become their own person – developing their own interests that will change as they grow up. That being said, it’s still possible to buy them toys they’ll love.
If you’re unsure where to start looking, here are seven tips on how to buy age-appropriate toys for your tween or teen.
1. Lego for all ages
Lego sets are a great gift for all ages – from younger years to all the way to teens. Lego Creator sets allow for more sophisticated and complex play. They come in a range of sets like haunted houses, sporting arenas and even pirate ships.
These sets are more advanced than the standard brick building and come with interactive digital instructions to enable kids to build on their own, but also get some guidance if needed.
2. Get them active with outdoor toys
Your tween or teen may have moved beyond running around outside, however that doesn’t mean that outdoor toys are completely pointless. Get them away from screens and playing these games as a fun and novel change of routine for them.
Vintage lawn game sets, such as bocce, croquet, and ring toss, have stood the test of time as they are simple, relatively easy to set up, and can enable friendly competitive play. If they’re not a games kind of kid, you can always set them up with a sporting set, like cricket or soccer goals, and watch them burn off their energy.
3. Nurture their interests with educational toys
Educational toys can go either way for kids. Some will love them, taking the extra opportunity to explore their interests, others might feel like it’s extra homework! That’s why it’s important to remember their interests before investing.
If your tween or teen is a resident star-gazer, they’ll love a space-based science kit. If they love exploring the past by discovering and digging things up, a fossil science kit is perfect. Their interests are the key to finding a toy that’s right for them – plus it’s a great way to bond and help them embrace their passion.
4. Make puzzle time a challenge
By the time your kids reach their tween years, you might find they’re ready for a little skill and strategy with board games. At this age, you can opt for games that aren’t too complex and don’t take too long, but still challenge them!
Classic skill and strategy games like Battleship and Monopoly are great entertainment for your kids, teaching the basics of grids and coordinates, and money management, respectively. Once they reach their teen years, games that require a higher level of skill and strategy, such as Risk or Pandemic, are ideal.
When it comes to puzzles, you can’t go wrong with a classic jigsaw puzzle. For your tweens, a puzzle between 200-500 pieces is ideal, and for your teens, puzzles over 500 pieces will provide them with a fun challenge.
5. Think outside the box with arts and crafts
Arts and crafts are a staple activity for kids, regardless of their age. When they’re little, it starts with finger painting before moving into colouring and drawing. As they get older, you can get a little more creative with their arts and crafts.
For a unique arts and crafts experience that they can enjoy even as they get older, try fun activities like rock painting, colour by numbers or craft kits.
As they get older, art is a great way to provide your kids with a unique creative outlet that can help them with reducing stress, developing attention to detail, and refining their art skills.
6. Get musical with a beginner’s kit
As they grow up, your tween or teen might start developing specific interests – like music.
Whether it’s piano, drums or guitar, the thought of splurging on instruments and lessons may be daunting. However, there are many budget-friendly beginner’s kits out there for a variety of instruments. These kits are a great starting point, allowing them to learn in their own time.
From there, they might discover a new-found passion for a specific instrument or want to try something new.
7. Consider a model kit
If you’re wanting to buy your kids a toy that’s a little bit different, consider a model kit.
Model kits are scale models that are intended for display with various subjects, such as fictional characters, animals and historical landmarks. The kits can vary in difficulty from snap-together pieces of paper, to requiring special tools and paints. Try easier snap-together or paper kits first and see how they go. If they love it, then you can try something a little more advanced.
With these tips you can find age-appropriate toys that your tweens and teens will love, without spending hours wandering around the toy section. You’ll help them develop new hobbies and interests they’ll love and value as they grow up, before they become fully-fledged adults.