27 Sep 2009

Boys Miss Out In Play.

Girls under five enjoy more varied play, which helps their development, while boys miss out, new research suggests.

More girls are allowed to read, play rough and tumble, dress up and play with dolls every day. But the research found that 15% of parents with sons felt certain activities were not suitable for boys, especially trying on clothes or playing with dolls or action figures.

David Whitebread from Cambridge University said "Potentially boys are losing out in vital areas of their development that girls are thriving in. All children need balanced exposure to different kinds of play to aid their development and understanding."

Dr. Whitebread added: "Evidence clearly demonstrates the importance of play in the lives of young children is strongly associated with their development. For children to mature and progress, it is vital to create opportunities for them to take part in a wide variety of play types."

SOURCE: The Chronicle.

PETTY WITTER SAYS: There is always some new research about the advantages/disadvantages of certain types of play. I can remember the study into whether or not toy guns should be allowed in primary schools, then there was the research into whether or not girls who spent too much time playing with prams, dolls and toy kitchen equipment etc were merely being encouraged into the role of the 'perfect' housewife and mother.

I have mixed feelings about toy guns being allowed in schools as no, of course, we don't want to promote overly aggressive play but, at the same time, generations of boys (and girls) have played with toy guns with no ill effect whatsoever and even if an actual toy gun is not readily available children will resort to improvisation.

As for girls playing with dolls etc, no-one loved a doll and pram more then me as a child but did I grow up with no other desires other than to be a 'perfect' housewife and mother? Though nothing necessarily wrong with this aspiration, I personally didn't - I'm a disaster in the kitchen, Hubby does all the cooking (perhaps he spent too much time playing with toy kitchen equipment as a boy) and as for being a mother, I knew from a very young age, despite my love of dolls, that motherhood wasn't something I wanted. No, I left that to my (naughty?) little sister who, despite being a tomboy, there were no dollies or prams here, she wanted nothing more than a toy garage, went on to have 2 children rather than become a mechanic.

So, what do you think? Are there any differences in the toys you allow your children to play with or, come to that, were there any toys you weren't allowed to play with as a child?


(M)ary said...

well, i don't have children but i would let my kids play with what interests them and try not to worry about the gender issues. i would certinly avoid guns! i guess if my child found out about guns elsewhere and wanted a toy gun, then i would teach them to have a "safety switch" on their toy gun just like a real gun apparently has(i only know about guns from tv)

i know that here in the Midwest of the USA, people get really uptight about gender issues. God forbid that a boy should wear pink or find a doll interesting. I think boys are at a disadvantage because they aren't allowed to explore traditionally feminine toys while girls are being allowed to be more well-rounded.

Kelly said...

My younger two, a boy and a girl, are so close in age they spent most of their growing up playing together. They both loved playing with anything available: toy kitchen stuff, stuffed animals, cars & trucks and action figures. Even though each had their own toys, they always shared well.

As for toy guns, yes we had a few of those around, too (usually the alien, sci-fi variety). Being a hunting and sport-shooting household, gun safety and hunting ethics have always been top priority. Of our three kids, it's the boy who is least interested in guns or hunting now.

Bad Alice said...

I think grownups do emphasize gender differences in toys. My youngest has been given many Barbies, and she doesn't care a fig about them. She would much rather have cars and Transformers. Both girls have tended to receive play makeup and frilly princess stuff as presents. I wonder how often a boy gets a doll as a gift? And I think people are much more tolerant of girls playing with cars and guns than boys playing with Barbies and baby dolls. I'm always a little surprised when I see a parent steer a boy away from dolls with explicit comments that those are "girl toys."

Dorte H said...

I was a real tomboy, and fortunately my mother let me (perhaps because I had two older sisters who were quite willing to play the roles of girls).

So of course I am hopeless at cooking and cleaning, but my three children are extremely loyal and keep assuring me I am the world´s greatest mother.

By the way, I thought you wanted access to my flash fiction blog? If you are still interested, please give me an email address so I can invite you.

La Coccinelle said...

My mother didn't let my sister and I play with toy guns other than water pistols... and she wasn't crazy about those, either. But we could play with pretty much anything else. I loved Lego... but I played with dolls, too.

It kind of bothers me when I see people restrict what their boys can play with. Playing with dolls, tiaras, and toy stoves isn't going to make them gay or transgendered. If that's going to happen, it's going to happen, no matter what they play with.