Holiday Shopping Shows Marketplace Gender Shift

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We may be in the 21st century, but many parents will still be making gender discriminating toy purchases this holiday season.

Girls get dolls and baking sets and jewelry-making kits.  Boys get trucks and Lego sets and model kits.

But, according to Dr. Susan Levine, chairwoman of the psychology department at the University of Chicago, “Playing with blocks, puzzles and construction toys helps children with spatial development and children with better spatial thinking are more likely to go into mathematics, engineering, science and technology.”

And playing with dolls encourages boys to develop a nurturing personality that will be crucial in building strong relationships later in life.

My top ten holiday gift recommendations for young children include dolls, blocks and puzzles…with no gender discrimination.  I’ve always believed that block play is important for both boys and girls.

Toy companies are always ready to jump on board if they feel it will result in more sales.

build and play barbie from timetoplaymag,Vivian Kirkfield,Show Me How Build Your Childs Selfesteem,positive parental participation

Photo courtesy of timetoplaymag.com

Mattel, the maker of Barbie…and Lego…have teamed up to produce the “Barbie Build ‘n Style” construction set…in pink, of course!

A recent New York Times article discussed this new Barbie construction set that may encourage dads to interact more with their daughters.  And in my book, anything that promotes positive parental participation is a good thing!

Show Me How Build Your Childs Selfesteem, Vivian Kirkfield,parenting advice,craft activities,child-friendly recipes

Jump into the New Year with an activity plan for your young children.  Use Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking for fifteen minutes every day…read a picture book story or do a quick and easy craft or invite your child to help prepare a simple healthful recipe.  You’ll find story suggestions and craft and cooking directions on every page of this award-winning resource for parents and teachers.  If the book doesn’t make planning activities easier, please contact me to return it for a full refund of your purchase price.

18 thoughts on “Holiday Shopping Shows Marketplace Gender Shift

  1. Haha, sorry but I’m laughing at that Barbie toy. I can soooo imagine how the story goes. Daughter freaks out when she sees her Barbie castle comes in little pieces. Dad gets all excited because he hasn’t played with Legos in ages. Dad builds castle and runs like hell when daughter hands him out a Barbie to play!

    I still buy non-gender specific toys and we have lots of these at home but my boys are old enough now to make specific requests, and they’re very boy-targeted. My 4-year old LOVES puzzles and I love them too, so he’s getting a bunch of new, harder ones for Xmas. But he’ll also get Lego sets because he asked Santa for them. Same for my eldest, along with lots of books, which are mostly on boy-oriented themes. My boys are amazing Lego builders and I couldn’t even come close to making what they come up with on their end. I think battery free Lego encourage imagination and creativity, so I’m all for it. They built new structures, vehicles, etc and take them on adventures. What more could I ask for?

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  2. Last year, our boy received kitchen supplies as he likes to cook and stir, etc. I’ve never really thought too much about gender specific toys. Really, he has too many toys anyway. Now that I think about it, we may be gender specific this year, but the gifts match his current interests — trucks (he loves them), a stick horse (so he doesn’t have to always use a pillow to ride a horse every time he says he’s a cowboy) and a fishing pole (really so his dad can train him to fish by the spring). We do have art supplies too as he loves to draw on paper, his hand, the glass door to the bookshelf, the table … well, you get the idea.

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    • You know, Stacy…they did a study many years ago with baby monkeys…the male monkeys gravitated to the truck and car toys…the female monkeys wanted to play with the dolls. 🙂  So I truly believe there is an inherent preference for ‘boy’ toys and ‘girl’ toys that is evident even with very young kids.  I guess I would just encourage parents to allow a child to show his own preference and make her own choices.  Other than that, if a girl wants a doll and a boy wants a truck, I would never force them to choose something different. 🙂  Knowing you, I’m sure Enzo has had plenty of opportunity to play with many different types of toys and arts and crafts supplies.  Good thing there are washable crayons. 🙂 :)Will you be at the SCBWI meeting on Sunday the 16th and/or at the critique group meeting on the 20th?  I should be at both.

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  3. A while back I wrote about the new girl-oriented legos– pink and purple construction sets. My grandsons love anything car. Grand-daughter seems to like them too– just to be with her brother. But she’s starting to enjoy clinging to a little soft doll. Agree- blocks and books are the best!

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  4. Bravo, Vivian! I agree 100%! My parents made sure we all had blocks and train sets as well as dolls (well, I’m not actually sure my brothers had dolls, but they were in the house) and my kids all grew up with blocks and dolls, tool benches, train sets, kitchen equipment and stuffed animals. My boys weren’t too interested in dolls, but they did play with stuffed animals, which is a little the same I think, and all the kids loved construction toys of all kinds, the train set, kitchen activities etc. And in fact it’s one of my sons who spent a summer working at a French restaurant, learning to prepare food and cook. Of course the other one went into the Marines… but what can you do 🙂 I guess in some cases, gender will out 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Susanna…for your kind words and for sharing about your kids.  My kids were lucky because I was doing my day care while they were growing up…there was a HUGE selection of wooden cars, trains, trucks…puzzles…arts and crafts…pretend play area…kind of like a preschool/kindergarten.  And yes, stuffed animals do provide that loving nurturing activity that all kids should have the opportunity to enjoy. :)…and I do believe that in most cases, gender will out!My kids all enjoyed the kitchen activities…and it is my younger son who worked in restaurants all through college…and now LOVES preparing culinary feasts with his wife…they both work from home (lucky ducks…my husband and I did also for many years and loved it!) and she makes breakfast (huge bowl of fresh fruit and nuts drizzled with honey)…he makes lunch (healthy salad with olives and mushrooms and other yummy additions) and they both work on dinner together…what fun!

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  5. I got my first doll when I was too old to play with her. I don’t remember playing except once with a friends kitchen set. I had my own paper route when I was nine and my parents gave me instructions on how to spend the money…on my school supplies and clothes.

    Yes, for my boys who worked with me making supper I gave boy specific toys up to a certain small amt each Christmas because I didn’t know better. But posts like this open my eyes and I will do better for my grandson. 🙂

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  6. I like the idea of this post. I will admit – I sometimes play Barbies with my sister. I also sometimes sew (just not as much as I would like to – not enough time) and cook. My sister races go karts and she plays Star Wars with me. 😀

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  7. I remember reading some controversy over the pink theme Lego items for girls… That is why I love books… All can buy and read them without feeling gender imprisoned… 😦

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    •  Yes, that is true, Eliz…books should be enjoyed by all genders and all ages…I can still sit down with “Little Women” or “The Hardy Boys” and enjoy them…and picture books, of course, in staggering numbers. 🙂  

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