Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boys and "Girl Toys"

The phrase, "My SON loves to play with GIRL TOYS, help!" seems to be an increasingly popular phrase from parents, especially dads. Stereotypes tell us that boys that play with "girl toys" won't be strong and tough.

Research does suggests that boys do to tend to favor traditional boy toys like trucks most of the time, but not every time.  (Girls have no preferences.)  However, research also suggests that it is healthy for boys to play with "girl toys."  Playing with dolls can help boys learn to be more empathetic and affectionate.  What message are we sending when we refuse to let boys play with a doll? Compassion is bad?  Small children don't understand the difference between boy and girl toys.  It might not be a bad idea for Dad to play dolls with his son.  Show your son that is good to be loving and affectionate.  Dad might even already be modeling this behavior by taking care of younger siblings.  Boys will take care of dolls to try and be like dad when there is a baby in the home.  Toys don't determine sexual identity.

Do dolls make boys more compassionate?

Lastly, research also suggests that testosterone in boys causes boys to enjoy "rough and tumble" play more than girls.  So, maybe it's not about WHAT toy they chose to play with, but HOW they play with the toy.  Personally, I remember that I could always get my brother to play Barbies with me, but that my brother always played with the Barbies as if they were ninjas or military men.  His Barbie never wanted to go shopping or change outfits.

"Mom, why can I play with this Barbie but not that Barbie?"

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