Toys’ creative meaning

In the meantime, there are many alternative explanations indicating that the creative meaning of toys is more important than their deterministic meaning. While playing down the aspect of the way in which the toy “forms” the child, these explanations emphasise that toys are independent of the crucial development factors and yet can still meet the child’s previously existing, individual demands.

In psychoanalysis, the traditional attitude to toys is as projection phenomena which can be deciphered by the therapist, allowing him to interpret the child’s innermost feelings and conflicts. From these suggested interpretations, diagnostic instructions have been developed, explaining how play and play therapy can be practised. These well-play instructions have been used by many therapists in children’s hospitals and clinics over many years and the use of “therapeutic toys” is furthermore one of the most striking developments in the institutionalisation of play this century.

Toys are thus apportioned an adaptive objective in the child’s life and the toys will always be apportioned an adaptive role regardless of whether the toy is introduced as:

  • a compensation for inferiority
  • a kind of consolation for a worried person
  • a “thing” which can ease or mitigate conflicts in marginal situations in the child’s life
  • an aid to coping and carrying on
  • a model for futurerituals



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