I taught my girls about manipulation early. I even used the word. And while I condemn manipulation between sisters, I condone healthy manipulation between parents and kids.
For every generalization about kids, there is a kid out there who is an exception. Her natural disposition and genetic make up mean that my ideas won’t work for her parents. So never just imitate what another parent does. Pray through it first and test it against scripture.
When my girls were babies, I could partially choose what blanket or stuffed animal became their favorite by strategically placing objects in the crib with her. From those items, each eventually choose a security item (I never imaged Bug would choose the pillow case over the lovely soft animals and blankets).
Later, as toddlers, I quit buying Barbies, Strawberry Shortcakes dolls or even Dora. I decided to focus on items that required 100% imagination. To play with a toy that has no television or movie or book version requires 100% imagination. I began emphasizing Groovy Girls and Littlest Pet Shops. I offered these toys as rewards and snubbed other toys.
I loved Littlest Pet Shops because they didn’t take up much space. They were affordable. And they could go anywhere, even the bathtub ( a toy that can “swim” is superior to one that cannot). And at the time, we didn’t know there were Littlest Pet Shop books.
Groovy Girls are wonderful modern-day rag dolls. They have awesome yarn hair (still have no idea how they curl that yarn and it stays..forever), cool, colorful clothing. They have outfits you can buy and loads of accessories. You can always get a bunch of Groovy girl stuff on Ebay. I love Groovy girls because they are girls in every color.
I allowed my girls to play with Barbies, but I push other dolls more. I have a friend who thinks Barbies contributed to an eating disorder. I am not sure what I think about Barbies, but I steered away from them. I am more comfortable with little girls playing with little girls dolls, rather than impossibly portioned women.
And you know what? Because I was willing to buy LPS and Groovy Girls, my girls acquired more of these toys. More accessories and stuff excited their imagination so they played with these toys more. These toys also past the time test. They were played with from age three (maybe two, but it wouldn’t be safe to admit this publicly) until at least nine. So I encourage you, choose your toys carefully, and don’t be shy about sharing your opinions. My girls have heard me say everything I just shared with you.