So what if your ‘little angel’ is glued to her toy kitchen or ‘tiny terror’ can’t stop pointing guns at your head – does it really matter if your kids aren’t gender neutral?
After receiving complaints about a range of products called 'Boy's Stuff', Marks & Spencer have just revealed they’re making their toys 'gender neutral' from next Spring. Last year, Sweden skipped ahead in the stereotyping stakes and introduced a non-gender specific sex called ‘hen’ to their dictionary.
While forcing girls into frilly princess tutus and shoving toy soldiers on boys might seem to encourage negative role models, surprisingly, there could be hard science behind why men prefer blue and women gravitate towards pink in childhood.
An eye tracking study on six month olds revealed that female babies picked softer colours and products that looked like dolls, while male babies responded better to primary colours and geometric shapes.
‘Avoiding gender stereotypes can help children be more independent and free to explore the world,’ says child psychologist Amanda Gummer from the Good Toy Guide. ‘It gives your child opportunities to make their own choices because there aren’t any restrictions. But don’t ditch the dolls quite yet. ‘They’re still great to play with, just let boys play with them, too. The same goes for action men, they teach valuable skills to both sexes,’ adds Amanda.
Children explore the world in different ways. Whether your child is reaching out for a doll or a tractor they are learning similar skills – so go with the flow. And don’t worry about what they’re wearing too much either. Instead, focus on your interaction being free of stereotypes. ‘Avoid telling your son they’re being a ‘sissy’ or mollycoddling your daughter if she cries – the key is treat each child, whatever the sex, as equally as possible.’
Do you look for gender neutral toys, clothes or products for your child, or do you pick whatever you want without worrying about it? Leave your comments below…