Monday, January 23, 2012

Dolls are for Boys and Girls!

Last week, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who has a son that is a couple of months younger than my sixteen month old. We were talking about the kids and what they where doing. Somehow we started talking about what they were playing and what their favourite toys were, when she tells me that she doesn't let her son play with dolls or with play food. I asked her why, given that all children love to play with both these things and the benefits that they get from playing with them is quite significant.

Her answer just floored me, she told me that she did not want her son to be girly, she said something about not wanting him to turn out...(I cannot repeat what she said). I was in shock. Speechless. I could not believe that I was talking to an educated woman in 2012.

Being a mother of two daughters, I certainly don't know what it is like to raise a son, but I do know what it is like to have to deal with people's/society's/family's belief of what little girls should play with. We have always exposed our girls to all kinds of toys and have allowed them to choose what they like to play with, no toy is girly or boyish. It is just a toy.

This is the same belief we have when choosing toys at, when I bring in a new toy, my number one criteria is the play value to the child. It is the reason why we do not have a search by gender option, because toys are not gender specific. I do recognize that children will gravitate towards certain toys, but this does not mean that parents should not expose their children to all kinds of toys, from trucks to dollhouses and let them see what they enjoy playing with.

Get your little girl a big Tonka truck and see how she just loves transporting her toys from one place to another in it. As well, if you have a little boy, get them a doll or a stuffed animal and some play food and see how they take care of them, making them special food, taking them for a walk, 'reading' to them and putting them to sleep.

The developmental benefit of imaginative play toys such as cars, play food, and dolls is that it enables children to develop their social and emotional skills. They are able to re-enact real life experiences through play, allowing them a safe place for them to make sense of their world and their day to day life. Click here for a great article on Doll Play and how it teaches valuable life lessons.

What are your thoughts on 'girly/boyish' toys? Does your son love to play with dolls? Does your little girl love her car collection?

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