Many kids today are reporting high-stress levels, more so than ever before. There are many toys out on the market specifically geared for kids to either pull, pinch, squeeze, or poke in order to relieve stress. There are squeezable stress balls in the shape of animals, plastic noodles that can be stretched out, and others have weighted stuffed animals.
All these toys fit under the category of “fidget therapy.” Another name for this is “sensory stress relief” toys. One Washington State-based elementary school counselor, Kayla Prewitt said, “The kids are obsessed with them. I literally see 200 a day, and they’ll choose my fidgets over Play-Doh, watercolors, whatever.” The craze began back in 2017 when the fidget spinner was released. After that, sensory toys started popping up everywhere and kids became hooked. Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute said, “Today, parents are hearing more than ever about how important it is to give their kids mental-health-and-wellness skills.”
The Toy Association, which is a trade group representing the U.S. toy industry, noticed fidget toys skyrocketing in popularity after the pandemic started. They named this trend “Zen-sationals,” which are toys that “promote mindfulness, self-care, and encourage kids to process their emotions in a healthy way,” according to representative Jennifer Lynch. But right now, what is drawing kids in is that they have become popular toys to trade on the playground. Usually, kids will tally up how many fidget toys they have and see how many they are able to trade. Whether they are stress relieving or not, there is definitely some genius marketing behind these toys.