Gender neutral play in the early foundation years is a studied and rather trendy topic at present, with research showing that children subjected to gender expectations suffer huge implications on their future achievements. There are a number of reasons why the turn towards gender neutral play is becoming more and more popular. The obvious one is gender inequality. But there is also an apparent stereotype issue which is hindering children’s development. These stereotypes should be instead challenged by children to further their learning experiences and to create more success for themselves in the future. Gender neutral play allows your child to be an individual and to let them explore and discover who they really are. Something every parent wishes for their little ones.
So how do we bring this mindset into our homes? For those of you wanting to make a significant change you can start by choosing gender neutral toys. For toddlers, duplo blocks, shape sorters and wooden toys in the shapes of animals are conducive to this new direction. For pre-schoolers, pick puzzles, art supplies and building blocks.
This is not to say you need to avoid all stereotypical toys. There is no need to jump from one extreme to another. But we should be letting our children explore as much as possible, and if they do choose a stereotypical toy, perhaps selecting it in a gender-neutral colour might work well. It may also encourage other family members to engage in that activity. Toy kitchens, for example, are fun and can be used by boys and girls. Boys can push and care for babies just as much as girls can.
As your child grows up, let them discover different job roles. Don’t stick to men being bankers and women being mothers. Show them that roles are not set. Kids love to copy their mums and dads. Even if your family does conform to stereotypes in terms of your job roles as adults, it helps to show them that you can do other things. If mummy gets the tool box out it demonstrates to her little girl that she can do these jobs too. Equally if daddy changes a nappy then boys will understand that having a baby is a joint responsibility. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a fabulous book containing stories of famous women with all types of professions and skills.
So, as we can see successfully developing a good mindset from the beginning is of upmost importance. Gender neutrality will have a positive impact on your child in terms of their choices of play and who they play with. Don’t make them play with toys assigned by gender if they don’t want to, rather let them have fun with whatever they are exploring at the time. Let it be their choice what they do. Stereotypical toys if played with solely, encourage only some skills, therefore limiting your child’s interests and their scope of their futures. Therefore, bringing in as much variety as possible is positive…. Oh, and embrace individuality! After all, each child most certainly has something unique to offer to the world.
Check out more toys for your little ones in the Toy Store at Mumzworld!