Christmas is approaching quickly and while mothers everywhere frantically find the right presents for their children, some are wondering if the toys they buy can help with social and emotional development.

Here in Louisiana, we have experienced our fair share of tragedy and chaos over the last year and a half. From dealing with a global pandemic to hurricanes and floods, wearing masks at schools and not being able to see family and friends regularly our children have had to learn how to deal with big feelings in the appropriate ways.

“The pandemic has been a reminder that children have really big feelings and no way to express them,” said McKinzie Craig, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “That’s become a real focus for us: It’s okay to feel sad or angry. But how do you address that and move forward?”


If you are one of the parents that is asking this question this holiday season I have a few options of toys that you can buy.
Some of the most popular items this year are:

  • Big Feelings Pineapple, a modern-day take on Mr. Potato Head with dozens of emotions, including silliness, confusion, and disgust.
  • TeeTurtle reversible plushies, a line of stuffed unicorns, cats, and octopuses that go from happy to angry (and back again)
  • Pop It! — a silicon fidget toy that’s become a mainstay of grade school classrooms and birthday party goody bags. This item is possibly the most popular fidget toy besides the fidget spinner.
Staff Photo
Staff Photo


“Right now the focus is on products that can help kids express their feelings, name their feelings and react appropriately,” said Sari Winick, chief marketing officer for toymaker hand2mind. “We’ve gone into overdrive developing toys to meet the needs of the times.”


As children start the transition back into the classrooms parents are rethinking the presents that they are planning to buy this holiday season. Parents no longer want things that will keep their children entertained for as long as possible anymore, they want items that can help them learn to regulate their emotions. This is forcing companies to adapt to the changing tides and develop more “fidget toys” and products aimed at building focus and regulating emotions.

However, this issue isn’t just a thing children are dealing with. Adults of all ages are reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression as a result of the pandemic and natural disasters that have taken place.

Personally, I had no clue what a Pop It! was when my son asked for one but quickly realized they were well worth the money I had spent. Not only do both of my children play with them but I have found myself popping them at night before bedtime. They really do calm you down and relieve some of that anxiety and stress that we may be dealing with.

I normally tend to roll my eyes when "fads" roll around but this one I am completely on board with and plan to have several Pop Its! inside my family's stockings on Christmas morning.

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