Some people think gendered play is a thing of the past, but it’s still alive and well today. We often see boys who are obsessed with cars and trucks, while girls continue to play with their dolls. It’s tempting to think that this is just how boys and girls are born but the truth is, gender-typed play is heavily influenced by caregivers, culture, and the greater environment.
Fun fact: All babies actually prefer the color blue. They only develop gendered color preferences at around 1.5 to 2 years of age.
1. 'Toys for boys' are usually in darker color like blue, green, black and so on.
Toy companies know that boys develop gendered color preferences and tend to choose darker colors. When was the last time you saw a light pink truck on a toy shelf? Toy companies dictate what toys your child will choose, thereby limiting them to these kinds of toys. Hence, boys will have less chances to practice their social and emotional skills because they are less likely to choose a doll from a toy shop.
2. 'Toys for girls' are usually in lighter colors like pink, purple, yellow and so on.
Have you noticed the color of dolls in a toy shop? Toy companies clearly target these toys towards girls to increase sales. This means girls generally have more opportunities to practice social and emotional skills and less opportunities to practice gross motor and coordination skills through toys like toy cars, blocks, and so on.
3. Gender-typed toys unintentionally promote gender stereotypes
Several research articles suggest that toys for boys generally promoted themes of masculinity, competition, and aggression i.e. soldiers, guns, cars etc. while toys for girls generally promoted themes of femininity, appearance, and domestic skills i.e. dolls, accessories, pretend play sets etc.
4. Gender-neutral toys are the best for promoting brain development
Of all the toys studied by researchers, the toys that are best for brain development tend to be more gender neutral and open-ended. Hence, there could actually be a negative side-effect of only playing with gender-typed toys. Gender neutral toys tend to focus on function instead of looks to attract a child’s attention, such as those found in our play kits.
If you promote gender equality and limit gender stereotyping in your household, chances are, your child will pick up on these cues. Your actions play the biggest role in developing your child’s attitudes towards gender and gender stereotypes.