Boys and Dolls
I do get ask many questions regarding what appropriate toys, boys should be playing with, what long term effects it will have on them and my two regular questions are in the context of boys and dolls “Will it make him soft?” and “Will he be gay?” I can only put these questions down to naivety, curiousness, personal preference and just general dated / old fashioned hearsay or wives’ tales.
Many of the questions come from fathers who seem to presume that their son playing dressups, cuddling soft toys and playing with dolls will cause their son to have behavioural issues in the future. Although they may not specifically say what behavioural issues they mean the tone really says it all. “It will make him soft.” “It’s a bit gay” “He needs to toughen up”
Boys and dolls any research?
I have been asked whether there is scientific research on this matter. No, there is not. When I asked my gay friends, did their playing as a child with particular labelled gender specific toys, influence them into being gay, bar from laughing hysterically and questioning why as a child behaviour consultant I was even asking and whether I was serious, their answer was no. They are gay because they are, not because they played with dolls or did threading activities. Most had not played with dolls as young boys ( it was definitely many years ago deemed as inappropriate, but that was then and this is now).
The scientific research there is demonstrates that by letting children learn through their chosen play activity they will flourish and learn the skills they need for adult life.
Parents are concerned about what sexual preferences their children will have, why? In todays society we are all equal and we have the freedom of choice to be who we want to be. What your child chooses to be is their choice when they grow up and not yours. Be concerned about the values you teach them, not who they will be partnering in adulthood.
We have to move on and stop stereotyping and classifying toys into specific genders groups.
A child’s development and their interests will guide them to what they want to play with.
I’ve even seen toys with stickers on saying “Awarded best girl toy of the year” It was a battery operated hamster. A friend of ours son had requested this as his birthday gift, it took me ten minutes to peel the sticker off as I did not want the seven year old boy to read it and think I cannot play with this, it’s a girls toy.
Certain toys and games do impact your child’s development and behaviour, research proves that violent games can lead to aggressive behaviour, different toys develop spatial awareness, cognitive development, creative and language development and emotional competence and life skills. But boys and dolls being played with and girls playing with a construction set does not set their adult sexual preferences.
Where do bisexuals fit in then? Does that mean they played fifty percent of the time with so called boys toys and the offer fifty percent with girls toys?
If a child plays with empty boxes are they destined to live in the streets? If a child plays doctors and nurses is that their career path set in stone? No it is not, it is imaginative play, it is what you did as a child and what children do all over the world. It is how they learn the skills to develop their emotions and grow into happy and well adjusted children.
The variety of skills that boys and girls learn through their interchanging and playing of so called gender specific toys is never ending. Our roles in society are no longer defined by our female or male gender, enrich the lives of your children and empower them to have a variety of play experiences that will teach them that its OK to be who you are and pursue what they like. Let girls play hot wheel cars, let boys play with dolls – children flourish in their playing, let them be kids, let them pretend, and they will have the best set of life skills ever.
Boys and Dolls it really is OK
So in my many years of working and observing children whilst they play , what they play with and how they learn through play I can safely say that
It’s OK for boys to play dress ups.
It’s OK for boys to help in the laundry.
It’s OK for boys to skip.
It’s OK for boys to express they want to marry mum.
It’s OK for boys to express they want to marry their buddy.
It’s OK for boys to play Disney trivial pursuit.
It’s OK for boys to cuddle soft toys.
It’s OK for boys to have 20+ soft toys on their bed.
It’s OK for boys not to want to play footy, soccer or cricket.
It’s OK for boys to play with doll houses (Mr 6 still does)
It’s OK for boys to dance and sing.
It’s OK for boys to love fairy tales.
It’s OK for boys to sew.
It’s OK for boys to do threading and beading.
It’s OK to be a sensitive, caring, nurturing boy.