Why Toys Should Be Gender Neutral?

In recent years there has been a push to get rid of gender labels in toys. Why toys should be gender neutral? Parents and activists argue that they hurt girls the most by limiting their access to quality educational toys and creating harmful stereotypes.

Research agrees with them.

Scientists studying toys stereotyped as very feminine or very masculine found they had a lot of negative effects and little educational value.

For girls, ‘feminine’ toys reinforce a focus on physical appearance and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about women’s role in society.

For boys, ‘masculine’ toys tend to make them more aggressive and don’t help them learn important home making skills.

Researchers have found that the best toys are those that are moderately feminine or moderately masculine.

Furthermore, removing these feminine and masculine labels helps children explore many different toys without feeling ashamed.

Let’s talk a bit more about why toys should be gender neutral…

Benefits of gender neutral toys

  • They make it easier for parents to shop the best toys that fit the needs of their children. As a parent, you will not feel limited only to the toys in the boys’ aisle or girls’ category.
  • It gives children a wide range of skills. Boys tend to acquire more homemaking skills while girls benefit from STEM skills. In other words, kids can explore their full range of talents and interests without feeling limited to certain types of toys.
  • It eliminates harmful stereotypes that kids grow up with. Researchers have found that primary school children have already developed stereotypes about what kinds of jobs boys and girls can do. One cause of this is the kind of toys they play when they are younger. Gender-neutral toys can help reduce toxic aggressive masculinity and the perception that girls need only focus on looking beautiful and glamorous.

Buying gender neutral toys for your kids

One mistake many parents make is try to push certain types of toys onto their kids in an attempt to eliminate the stereotypes.

Experts instead recommend letting your child decide what they like and exposing them to a wide variety of toys.

There are so many types of toys that both boys and girls will love playing with. Some good examples include nerf guns, train sets, doctor sets, Monster High dolls, cartoon toys like Minnie mouse, remote control cars and many more.

Puzzles, building blocks, toy musical instruments and figurines are also some great choices for all kids.

A better way to buy kids’ toys

The best criteria to use when choosing the best toys for your kids is age. Age is what determines how much they’ve developed and hence what kids of toys are appropriate for them.

Here’s a quick age-by-age toy-shopping guide.

0-12 months – This is the easiest age group to shop for. Infants are drawn to bright colours and unusual sounds. So rattles, brightly coloured balls and toys with coloured lights are great. Make sure the toys are safe to chew on, durable and are easy to hold.

1-2 years – At this age kids are just beginning to understand the concept of cause and effects. They release something and it drops to the floor, they push something and it falls over, they hit something and it makes a sound. Buy toys that reinforce this. Some good ones include musical instruments, lighted toys and talking dolls.

They are also learning how to use their hands. Toys like stacking rings, shapes, large toy cars and large puzzles are ideal for helping them work on their motor skills.

2-3 years – Their imagination is flourishing and so are their motor skills. This is when pretend play toys, tricycles and building blocks will be most helpful.

3-4 years – At this age, kids can comfortably play with more advanced toys like bikes, make-believe toys and puzzles. Also introduce some basic educational toys to prepare them for certain concepts like numbers, sounds and letters.

4-5 years – This age period covers both childhood play and the beginnings of learning. Here is where you start introducing educational toys like math puzzles, word games and complex construction blocks. This is also a great time to introduce sports toys like soccer balls and a tennis set. Board games are welcome too.

From then on let your child’s interests guide you in buying the best toys. Some great toys after age 5 include toy computers and tablets, art and craft kits, science kits and coding toys.

Leave a Reply