Toys for girls and boys
THIS PUBLICATION IS SPONSORED BY LEGO UK LTD
are vital to your childs development. The National Toy Council has
prepared these publications Toys & Children to help you
select toys for girls and boys.
Someone said that if you gave footballs to 100 girls
and dolls to 100 boys, within an hour the boys would be kicking the
dolls around and the girls would be nursing the footballs.
Research shows that the toy itself guides play. Its
generally true that boys are more active than girls, while girls are
more nurturing in their play.
But the toy itself makes demands footballs invite
kicking and dolls practically beg to be cuddled. Its true that
"boys will be boys". But its also true that dolls will be
dolls and footballs will be footballs!
HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?
Many children first learn of computers by playing
video games. Research finds that boys are attracted by their fast pace
and action, by sound effects and by being able to make things happen.
Girls prefer games that "talk" to them and involve playing
with others. They like music, but not shooting.
Although boys and girls play differently they are
alike in basic ways. In fact, many of the differences are learned,
especially from parents.
Most children like a variety of playthings puzzles,
wind-up animals, modelling clay, books and board games.
WHAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT?
From around two to three yeas of age boys and girls
begin to differ in their choices of some toys. Boys select male
super-hero dolls and vehicles, girls preferring baby dolls and toy
Why are those sex-hyped choices made? Apart from
simply copying adults around them, children hope to win approval (or
avoid disapproval) from their playmates, encouraging them to join them
in their play. They also want praise from their parents for good
HOW SHALL I CHOOSE?
Manufacturers often package and market toys "for
boys" or "for girls". So a pink toy chest with a Barbie
doll design is seen as a girls toy.
But this should not influence toy-buyers into
thinking that a toy is only for a boy or only for a girl. Both need a
variety of play experience to develop skills and attitudes.
Many parents are worried about allowing boys to play
with dolls or domestic toys, yet there is no evidence that they develop
"feminine traits" by doing so. Without knowing it parents
might influence their sons to avoid toys usually considered suitable for
DOES IT MATTER?
Both boys and girls may become attached to a doll,
soft toy or blanket. There is no need to discourage them. Children who
cling to favourite comfort objects are apt to sleep better and be well
In recent years girls play has become more like that
of boys. They identify with super-heroes, play more adventure games and
enjoy trucks, space toys and chemistry sets.
PLAY POINTS AND TOY TIPS
Boys and girls need to enjoy many different
experiences with a variety of toys
Puzzles and shape sorters teach children about
shapes, colours and names of objects. Parents also need to know how
much can be learned from play with kitchen sets, dolls, vehicles,
fantasy figures and video games. These stimulate imagination and
teach practical new skills.
Praise your child for showing imagination or
skill with a toy.
Parents with traditional attitudes tend to buy
sex-typed toys. Dont limit children by providing only one kind of
toy or play.
Being non-sexist in buying toys does not mean
refusing your daughter a nurses uniform or your son a Superman
To encourage boys and girls to play together
combine neutral with traditional boys and girls toys in play areas.
The National Toy Council is concerned
with child welfare. Its members include representatives of the Child
Accident Prevention Trust, British Toy and Hobby Association, National
Toy Libraries Association, Institute of Trading Standards
Administration, BBC Childrens Television, national press, renowned
academics and a toy safety expert.
Compiled with the assistance of Professor Jeffrey
Goldstein BA MS PhD (of the University of Utrecht), member of the
National Toy Council.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
National Toy Council,