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Gender Stereotyped Toys

When we get children, we have to make a decision about the way we are going to manage their upbringing. Here you have a brand new human being in front of you and you have the power to form its beliefs, expectations and attitudes. More and more psychologists agree that the first five years of life have an incredible effect on a personality later in life.

Educational toy

Since this initial period in a child’s life is usually dominated by playing, the choice of toys appears to be really important for the development of our children. However, toys also send messages and a parent should be able to recognize their meaning and make up their mind about them in a wise way.

Toys and their color

Toys stores are pretty marked places. The moment you enter such a store, colors clearly direct you to one of the departments. The department with toys for boys is usually painted blue, while pink prevails over all the other colors in the girls’ section. Why is this so? One explanation implies that such a division has its roots in the psychological premise that the pink color (as well as orange, beige and other similar shades) is associated with care and kindness, which are the ideals to which every baby girl and woman should (allegedly) be aiming. Blue color, on the other side, launches more serious reactions in our brain.

So, baby boys are taught to develop in a rational and almost tough way. It all dates back to the times when men were supposed to be aggressive and protective and woman only caring ladies. Today, however, such a strict division to boys’ and girls’ colors should not be practiced, since both the children and the world around us are quite different nowadays.


Learning roles through toys

While they are at the age of 7 or 8, children are often asked to draw their family members. The majority of children still depict their mothers as someone who makes lunch or take care about laundry. On the other hand, the father is someone who fixes cars, does repairs around the house and is supposed to be the defender of the family. It is no wonder that many kids keep perceiving genders that way if we know that their toys are pretty highly gender-marked.

Action figures (they must be blue) and cars are usually bought for boys, as well as swords, guns and other toy weaponry. Girls usually get dolls and kitchen sets as a gift. But wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the box and go for gender-neutral toys? For instance, a ball could be a great unmarked toy, with which both boys and girls could play. Today there are many so called neutral educational toys and we could really show our children how big and diverse the world is, so that one day they become open-minded and empathic people, no matter what gender they are.

Toy-enhanced single parenting

Speaking of role models and the way children acquire and learn the roles of their gender, single parents are often on first line of the battle for gender equality. Growing up without one parent was thought to be extremely stressful for children. However, it has been believed recently that it does not have to be an anxious situation. In the past, when women were much more unemployed, it was very hard for them to raise kids on their own.

Women today are almost equally employed as men in most of the developed countries (although often still less paid). What children might lack in a single-parent family is a role model. If a son lives with his mom, he might not have a contact with a male role model on daily basis. The same goes with daughters living with dads. In this situation, even some of those gender-marked toys could be introduced, but only in a limited and careful way, just to develop all the sides of a kid’s personality.

This is, of course, far from saying that only these kind of toys will have an impact on the molding and acceptance of your child’s gender (gender identity is much more complex than you may think). Nevertheless, they can definitely be a useful tool to help out in upbringing of your child.

Gender differences are gradually disappearing and it would be completely irrational raising kids like people did fifty years ago. Toys can serve as great tools for educating children how to show respect to both their gender and the opposite one. It is up to them to discover the world and choose what they like. Parents should only offer the children as many options as they can to ensure that their kids become understanding and tolerant members of society.

One Response to “Gender Stereotyped Toys”

  1. I hate to break it to you but toys have no gender, and this has nothing to do with gender identity. This has to do with how we subconsciously encourage stereotypes about what a girl or boy is supposed to like or want or do.

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