Are toys gender-specific?

Are toys gender-specific?
Until they are about 4, children enjoy playing with all toys, regardless of whether they’re typically geared for girls or boys.

Until they are about 4, children enjoy playing with all toys, regardless of whether they’re typically geared for girls or boys. Chances are, however, that your child mainly has toys associated with his gender. “Long before children even ask, parents, family and friends offer them specific activities based on their gender and give them stereotypical toys,” notes play specialist Rolande Filion.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a little boy liking trucks and a little girl, dolls. But it’s good for your child to have access to a variety of games to be able to fully develop his skills and personal preferences. “My son likes tractors and toy cars, but he also likes playing with the play kitchen set,” says Michèle. “His father cooks a lot, so Jacob pretends to cook, too.” Véronique, for her part, says that her 4-year-old daughter, Zoé, likes to play with both “boy” and “girl” toys. “And even if my son Alexis adores superheroes, video games, trucks and hockey, he also enjoys playing with dolls with his sisters and watching princess movies.”

Today, the division of tasks by gender is not as clear-cut. There are men who take care of the children and clean, and women who mow the lawn and coach their kids’ soccer teams.

In general, children imitate what they see. “If your son plays with dolls, he’s probably pretending to be a daddy, or even a nurse or doctor,” notes Rolande Filion. “He may even simply be curious about discovering a different world.” One of the functions of toys is, effectively, to prepare a child for his future life. Since so many fields are open to both women and men, children are exposed to a variety of models. So it’s normal for your child, whether boy or girl, to be interested in playing with different types of toys, including those commonly associated with the opposite sex.

That said, if a little girl who plays with cars doesn’t raise eyebrows, the same can’t be said for a little boy who plays with dolls. This boy will sometimes create a sense of awkwardness among the people around him. Some people also believe that a boy who play with dolls will become homosexual. But according to play specialist Rolande Filion, this belief is unfounded. “Sexual orientation is something deep that is neither determined nor influenced by toys.” A child doesn’t choose his or her sexual orientation, and there is nothing anyone can do to change it, either. Forbidding your son to play with Barbie dolls won’t prevent him from being homosexual.


Photo : Maxim Morin


Naître et grandir

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, September 2013
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Sylvie Richard-Bessette, psychologist