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Gender Stereotyping and Child’s Play

Another blogger raised an interesting point about gender stereotyping, the availability of toys to young children and whether this influenced them in any way.

With my own children, dolls were never much on the agenda.

The boys thought they were uninteresting as they didn’t do anything – which I guess is not all that surprising. For a very short while, one son played with an vintage doll that I myself had as a child, but it did not sustain interest for him. He preferred clocks and mechanical toys that he could pull apart and see cause and effect. The other boy was similar but did enjoy pretend paly with stuffed animals, preferably knitted by his Grandmother, but never dolls.

One afternoon when the boys were 6 and 3 years old, a school friend came over to play. He brought his Barbie doll with him. He had two sisters and we thought nothing strange about his Barbie doll.

When his Mum came and they left to go home, my eldest son found the friend’s Barbie doll tucked under the covers of his bed, propped up on his pillow. He was completely perplexed about why his friend was interested in the doll and what to do about it.

We phoned the Mum and let her know the doll was still at our house and that we would return the doll at school, the following day. She mentioned that her husband was very worried about her son and his penchant for Barbie dolls. We could not really see too much of a problem if he liked them.

Princess

My daughter was more interested in Teddy bears than dolls. I didn’t direct or stereotype her play, merely let her preferences dictate play, in the exact same way I had done with my sons, but would introduce things to her and let her take it from there. They would pick out their toys at the shop or at home. She never chose or wanted a doll. Bears were much like dolls in terms of imaginative playthings, anyways.

One day I noticed something interesting.

It was my practice to make little cardboard car ramps with my sons so that they could roll their toy cars up and down in a safe corner of our large country kitchen, whilst I was preparing meals or working. They loved this and they made all sorts of twisting and turning ramps with sticky tape this way and that. They played for hours rolling down various toy cars and trucks and loved the activity.

When my daughter was around 18 months or 2 years old, I grabbed some cardboard and made a small car ramp for her amusement, as the boys were off playing older boy games in the backyard, by then. When I rolled a toy car down this makeshift ramp and made a whooping sound when it rolled off the end, my daughter cast it a cursory glance, grunted a little and swiftly turned away to play with something else. The cars and ramp game held absolutely no interest for her.

It was a Eureka moment for me. “You are not like your brothers,” I thought. And I didn’t think I had any influence on that. I hadn’t conditioned her to like cars or to dislike dolls. We still had had the vintage doll in the cupboard, but she never voluntarily touched it. The boys were more interested in video games by the time she was independently playing, so perhaps if they were still playing with toy cars, she might have wanted to join in. Still, it seemed she spent more time playing with the toy kitchen, dress-ups or pulling plastic containers out of my storage cupboards engaging in pretend play.

But there was the collection of bears.

child with teddy bear

Each one had a different name, which sometimes changed from day to day or minute to minute. She might dress them up, give them tea parties or set up a bear wedding ceremony. Again, this had come out of her own imagination.

For birthdays, kindly friends or relatives would give my daughter a Bratz doll as a gift – the ones with the big eyes and curvaceous figures. The only time my daughter would touch them would be to cut their hair off pretending to be a hairstylist, after which the Bratz dolls would be ditched in the dark recesses of the toy cupboard, never to be seen again. She found them, ‘a bit creepy,’ she explained years later.

So whilst many psychologists or academics propose that parents instil stereotypes in children by guiding their play or limiting their toys, I don’t think I entirely agree. I do believe they make up their own mind according to their own personality preferences.

Do you see evidence of children following gender stereotypes in their play?

Has this changed?

Do you think children’s interest are dictated by nature or nurture?

Community

Sunday Sayings – Needs

What happens when life takes an unexpected turn and we need something out of reach? Do you pause and think, panic or reach for the phone?

business workplace
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Necessity makes a Naked Woman

Learn How to Spin

~ Danish Proverb


Danish thatched cottage
Knaegemølle, Denmark

What is life if our best-laid plans are not to be laid aside?

~ Arundhati



weaving rocking chair christmas

Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements.

More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency  

~ Pamela Paul

Thanks to Leggy Peggy and
www.nytimes.com/2019/02/02/opinion/sunday/children-bored.html



Home made chair

Does your world fall apart? Or do you see it as a challenge?

What do you make of this week’s sayings?

Everyone’s opinion is valid.
What is yours?

I invite you to leave a comment or share your views on Sunday Sayings.

Words of Wisdom

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog. I became fascinated with traditional proverbs, quotes and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

They offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way relay runners might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.

They are invariably Something to Ponder About

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Community

Sunday Sayings – Stereotypicals

Is this true?

The graphic depicts the common stereotypes,  but it does not depict the individual who comes with conflicting viewpoints and contradictions.

Stereotypes fall in the face of humanity. We human beings are best understood one at a time. 
    
Anna Quindlen


Stereotypes might even be a mind’s way of dealing with the infinite complexities of our human personas, in shorthand.



For we ARE all individuals, no matter how similar or how different from one another.

Indeed, the Taoists say, ” it is possible to appreciate people for their uniqueness – like you might enjoy a certain song. You don’t have to analyse and pull it apart.”

If we stop comparing people to other people, and instead appreciate differences, we might experience a greater level of contentment, in our own mind and ourselves.
Conversely, complaining about others means we are effectively allowing ourselves to feel irritated or disturbed that things aren’t as we think they “should be.”


A bad neighbour glosses over your qualities and reveals your faults. 

~ Algerian proverb



Letting others be just who they are, means being a lot more flexible and accepting. Even consciously having less expectations.

More peace of mind might result from changing attitudes, than by changing circumstances.

There’s a difference between being yourself and being your stereotype.   
  
Iggy Azalea

What do you make of stereotypes? Are they always right or usually wrong?

Everyone’s opinion is valid.
What is yours?