Girls & Boys & Toys: Advice On Defeating The Stereotypes
Defeating The Stereotypes
There are a lot of headlines in the news these days regarding the toys we tend to give our children. And while ‘gender neutral’ might be a statement that makes you roll your eyes and mumble something about political correctness going mad, the simple truth is that there is a problem. Like it or not, kids learn through play, and when we give our girls toys that are every shade of pink, and the boys always get balls, soldiers, and advanced LEGO sets, what message are we giving the kids?
That said, it is incredibly difficult to work around this gender stereotyping, especially since your children get older and start going to school. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t try. With this in mind, I thought I would put together some simple ideas on how to break the gender stereotypes with your kids – let’s take a closer look.
Mix things up a little
You don’t have to start by deciding to throw out all your kid’s gender specific toys, so don’t panic. After all, once your children become attached to their princess dolls or Batman costume, it’s something of a love affair, and they would be devastated to lose them. Instead, plan ahead and start to diversify the type of toy they play with. If your little girl has a doll’s house, for example, you can find some amazing dolls house accessories that aren’t your typical fare. Think about getting them tool sets to play with their dolls, or even gardening equipment, as well as the stereotypical kitchen items. And look harder than ever for alternatives in the toy shops, too. According to research, only 11 percent of girls’ toys are focused on science, technology, or engineering, whereas almost a third of the toys aimed at boys have a similar focus.
Talk about it
As we discussed earlier, when your children get to school, it’s tough to stop them from falling into their stereotypical gender roles. So, it’s important to try and communicate with them at home. You might discuss the arbitrary rules that society tries to impose on them or question the reason why they don’t feel like they can be interested in something that is typically aimed at the other sex. Sure, it’s heavy stuff, but your kids are a lot more tuned in than you might think, and they might even surprise you with their interest in something different. Take our daughter as the perfect example: she was delighted with a science kit.
Never pigeon hole
Your kids will go through phases of liking particular toys – it’s completely natural. It’s important that you embrace these passions, whether it’s Princess Leia or GI Joe. But don’t stick it on them for life, as you will have more of an impact than you might think. Try to avoid encouraging your daughters to be princesses, cowboys, or other stereotypical kids’ characters. They might not grow out of it if you do.
Do you have a problem with gender specific toys? Or do you think it’s not an issue at all? I’m keen to hear your thoughts so why not get in touch and share them?
This is a collaborative post