Children love to play. They love to play with toys. Toys should not however define their play. It is an unconscious thing to classify toys as being for girls or boys. I’ve done it myself. When shopping for a boy’s birthday I naturally find myself looking at cars and action figures whereas if I’m shopping for a girl, I’m looking at dolls and stuffed animals. I’ve parents complain that they feel judged when their son wants a doll, or their daughter wants a dump truck. The idea of girl toys and boy toys is ingrained into our psyche from an early age. I think it is growing more important everyday that advocate for our children and their interests. Toys should be given to align with their interests and what we want our children to learn through play than the stereotypical ideas of what they are playing with.
If your child has a personality that leans toward nurturing, empathy and taking care of others then dolls, kitchen play, and stuffed animals should be accessible whether your child is a boy or a girl. The same concept should be applied to children with interests that lie in construction toys, boxing gloves, or footballs. Allowing children to participate in activities and play with toys that center in their wants and needs despite their gender will encourage them to be confident in who they are and not what they are expected to be. Little girls should not be defined as being princesses in pink frilly dresses if they don’t want to be. They should be permitted to be fire fighters, superheroes, or sport stars if that is who they are. Little boys should not be defined as muscled knights in shining armor always rescuing damsels in distress. They can be artists, teachers, or stay at home Dads if that is where their heart lays.
I’m not saying you should analyze every toy you purchase for your children to teach them a lesson in life. Slime is just plain fun! I think it is important to realize who your child is and to help encourage them to be unafraid to follow their ideas despite what society and advertisements say. Teaching your child to embrace their interests will help to build them up and help them to embrace their true selves. The happiest adults that I know are the ones who bucked common stereotypes and preconceived ideas of they should be when they grow up. They are also the one who were given opportunities to play with that chemistry set, sit and read books, play in the mud, or put together puzzles despite what others might have said they should be doing.
Children learn a lot through play. They learn who they are and who they want to be. They learn how to communicate and cooperate with others. They learn how to solve problems whether it be with their peers or how to get a car from point a to point b without touching the car. Children learn how to be leaders, inventors, and care takers through play. It is not always and cannot always be about being a girl or a boy but about who they are and what they want to be.
Lead Kindergarten Teacher