Buying items for kids brings a sense of joy to most parents. To see their faces light up with excitement at the sight of a new toy, game, outfit, or technology device is often rewarding. In 2011, the average child received $309 worth of toys, which is kind of a lot of money when you think about it. It equates to around $26 per month. This around the same amount of money we spent on life and personal insurance.
Some of the items we buy for our kids end up being a great purchase. Our kids love the product, they receive some sort of resulting educational value, and it enriches them in some way. These are the types of purchasing decisions we usually look back on without any regret. Many learning products, some technology devices, some clothing, and books often fall into this category.
On the other hand, there are also those products we kick ourselves for agreeing to purchase. Kids may beg and plead until we finally comply, or in some cases they exhibit good behavior or grades, and we just want to reward them with something they actually want. Whatever the reason, there’s certain items we buy for our kids, even though we don’t want to. This list of items parents hate buying for their kids contains products that are often more trouble than they’re worth.
1. Rip Offs
So, you’re sitting in the living room, enjoying a quiet evening of television with your family when, all of the sudden, you hear: “It floats, it levitates, it will amaze you. The magic floating ball will float in mid-air, right before your very eyes.” Then of course, what does your child say? “Can I please have that magic ball?”
You have a pretty good idea that the product won’t work in the same manner in which it appears on TV, but just to be sure, you may decide to go online and check out a few reviews from others who have already purchased the magic floating ball. Nearly all of the reviews are negative. “Doesn’t work,” one review says. “Basically a paperweight,” reads another review.
There are thousands of products out there like the fictional magic ball, where parents know the product is a rip off, but kids still really want it. At a cost of between $20 and upwards of $50 for these rip off products, it’s painful to shell out the money. But sometimes, teaching kids the valuable lesson that you can’t believe everything you see on TV is worth it to some parents.
While out shopping, kids often see items in the $5 or $1 toy sections. These items may light up, contain bright colors, or have some other quality that’s intriguing to children. When kids see these items, they’re generally unconcerned with how long they will last and they only think about how fun and exciting the product looks right then.
As parents, we try to explain how the light up wand or cheap plastic toy will break after a day or two of use, but kids are more optimistic. We may even cite examples of past toys that broke in only a week or two. “Remember your yellow flashlight?” we ask in a warning tone.
In spite of our words of wisdom, children seldom heed our warnings. They still want these toys and when they inevitably break, we see disappointment, and in extreme cases, tears or hissy fits.
3. Pages of Instructions
Just about all parents have experienced setting up a toy, bicycle, or piece of machinery that contains about a million small parts. These instruction manuals are anywhere between a few pages and a few hundred pages long, and it takes a rocket scientist to accurately follow these instructions. Somehow, we manage to figure it out — but not without a bit of blood, sweat, and tears along the way.
Between finding the correct language, locating the supplemental things you’ll need, and sorting the parts into organized piles, putting together these products is quite a daunting task. Meanwhile, children sit impatiently by, continuing to ask when they’re going to get to play with their new Super Robot 10,000. After about two or three hours of tedious work, it feels like an accomplishment to finally complete the task — sometimes, only to have the masterful creation destroyed by a kid who’s roughhousing.
4. Sticky, Slimy, or Messy Products
While most parents want to promote creativity in their children, we also want to have them be neat and tidy during creative time. Toys like Play Dough (well, really anything ending in the word dough), slime, Silly Putty, or clay are many parents’ worst nightmares.
The gooey substances get stuck in carpet, furniture, and some of these substances stain clothing. So, while the $8 to $20 for a multi-pack of Play Dough or Moon Dough is absolutely worth making a child happy, it may not be worth the potential trouble it causes. If you end up needing professional carpet cleaning after a sticky dough disaster, you’re shelling out another $45 or so.
Most of us remember what it was like to be a teen or pre-teen. Styles changed pretty frequently and what was cool one year was lame the next. Many of us went through several phases, changing our style from gothic to preppy, and then back again. The same applied for the products we purchased. In the 1990s, beanie babies, treasure trolls, and slap bracelets were absolute must-have items for a lot of kids.
Since we know our children are likely going through a style phase as well, we may see buying a fad piece of clothing or toy as wasteful. Sure, they’ll love it for a few weeks, even a few months, but after a while, it’s going to go out of style and into the depths of their closet — never to be seen again.
These fad products are often expensive, too. A lot of parents are willing to pay top dollar for Furbies and Pokémon paraphernalia, only to have children get sick of them after a short time period.
6. Noisy Items
This category is perhaps the worst of them all. Noisy and annoying toys, video games, and electronics equipment is enough to drive any parent crazy with its repetition. “Ha, ha, ha, you tickled Elmo,” we hear over and over again. Not only are these noisy toys painful to have around, they’re also expensive. These trademarked character toys and games often cost upwards of $30.
Then, when children get a bit older, annoying Elmos and talking Doras are replaced with karaoke machines, singing games and apps, video games, computer games, and smartphones. These expensive items beep, play music, play songs, and generally make loud noise, which can be incredibly irksome. In spite of the annoyance, we still purchase these items.
7. Fast-Food and Junk Food
We hear all of the time about how obesity is a huge problem in this country. With fast-food restaurants offering toys that are designed with the latest kids’ trends in mind, kids often want to visit such establishments. Cartoon characters and clever marketing draw both kids and adults in. Most kids in general love sugar and junk food, and ask for it on a regular basis.
Around 160,000 different fast-food restaurants serve 50 million customers every day. Just one of these meals provides around 40 percent of the daily amount of calories we need, and because we want to promote healthy eating habits, most of us try to limit fast food and junk food intake. But every once in a while, we’ll let it slide and just go grab some ice cream or maybe some fast-food for dinner, even though we may hate to do it.