Even today where everyone is much more open minded and excepting of the differences people have, there are firm beliefs that there are boys’ toys and girls’ toys, blue for boys and pink for girls. If you look at the card shops, media, adverts, and clothes shop it is very much divided into two sections. Trains and Cars for boys, dolls and dress up for girls. The fact is though that any play with any toy is great for development in children and research shows that those that are ‘allowed’ to play with what ever they like are much more likely to become high achievers than those who are limited in their discovery of toys and diverse activities.
If your little boy wants to play dress up, as mine does, and your little girl wants to play with cars and trucks be open minded about it. Do not think of toys as being gender specific but as age appropriate and developmentally appropriate for your child.
Children need to learn to use their imagination and playing with dolls, kitchens, mini markets will all enhance this along with developing social, emotional and language skills. They offer the opportunity to interact with other people as they play tea parties, or shopping trips and copy those real-life situations that they see you in every day. Toys that are interactive will help them to learn about sharing and playing together. How many of you have a dressing up box? Not just shop bought replica costumes of Disney characters but bits and pieces of Mum and Dad’s clothes that they can dress up in and make believe, it will lead to a whole host of imaginative and fun activities for them as they pretend to be you or some other adult they aspire to. Encouraging play with dolls will teach them about empathy and understanding and introduce the idea of younger siblings or cousins that they may be getting.
Encouraging play with balls, cars, trucks, and toys considered more likely to be favoured by boys will help develop motor, language, and social skills. Children can play for hours with a set of blocks, just building them up and knocking them over again and again, they can use them to make a house or garage, all the time developing their imagination and realising there is no limit to what they can do or think. Our job is to give them the most opportunities possible for them to use their imaginations. Allowing a child to play with any type of toy, if it is safe and age appropriate, will help them grow and increase their creativity and sense of who they are.
It is always hard to encourage relatives and friends to allow you child the freedom to chose and many a grandparent has refused to buy their grandson a doll and their granddaughter a toy tool kit. But if you explain that in the long run allowing them to play with what they desire rather than what you or anyone else thinks is appropriate will make them much more rounded young people and teach them important life skills like compassion and respect. I am sure that any parent or grandparent wants this for their child.