Do girls and boys play the same toys?
Up to 2 or 3 years old, children play practically the same games.
The sensory and motor awakening toys are identical, and the first imitation or pretend & play toys, such as the merchant, the housewife, the dolls, and infants, are aimed at both girls and boys! Very often, girls and boys play together: they play “mum and daddy” and reproduce scenes from everyday life.
They are also intrigued by trains: although there are more boys around the circuits, girls are not excluded.
However, we are not going to remake the history of our Western society: even today girls play with dolls and boys at cars! Do they play the same way with the same toys?
Not always. In the hands of a boy, a broom will very quickly become a weapon, while a little girl will, with some exceptions, tend to sweep conscientiously.
Only construction toys could display certain neutrality. I say “could” because, for commercial reasons, the manufacturers choose to differentiate the toys for girls from those for boys. These also contribute to creating and nurture friendships among children.
Take the example of a famous little brick, which now offers girls the “Friends” range: the pink universe, beauty accessories, ensure great success.
But it is distressing to see that this little brick, which has survived the ages and whose interest has never wavered, has also succumbed to the trend of sexual toys!
Do you suggest that children play “other sex games”?
No, we let the children choose their games. In the toy library, we advocate free play, which allows children to conduct all kinds of experiments.
We try, despite this, to offer play spaces with the neutral staging of the “circus” or “veterinary” type, with also a mixture of styles which can only enrich their play. It is not always easy.
When I created my first game fund when the toy library opened, I spontaneously chose robots, sports games, construction games, “electronic” games… dollhouses from the “ Petits Malins ”or“ Petit Poney ”, some Barbie dolls and board games, of course.
One day a little girl came to see me and said, “This is a boys’ toy library! “. Since that day, I have tried not to have any preconceptions and to offer a choice of varied, original, well-made games and toys, or quite simply of undeniable playful interest.
How do parents choose toys?
The packaging and the theme of the toys have a big influence on parents in stores. We previously highlighted that parents may be choosing the wrong and expensive toys. In the toy library, we change or modify the packaging and favor the content over the container.
As we do not classify the toys by age, parents very often come to the librarians for advice, and, as a result, it is easier to prioritize the interest of the game.
But, if we do not intervene, they spontaneously go to what they know or have heard about.
Hence the importance of the role of the toy library! How do parents react if their child has fun with an “opposite sex” toy?
Girls can play anything. Parents are not shocked to see them having fun with boys’ toys. They even feel a certain pride in it.
Boys can also play with dolls without worry, but when they want to bring it home, that poses a problem: either the parent ignores the child’s choice, or he offers him something else …
It’s up to us, toy librarians, to reassure parents: any form of play contributes to the child’s development.
Dressing and undressing a doll requires a certain dexterity, telling her stories promotes imagination and language development.
Pushing a truck and imagining a production lead to the same learning. Are mentalities changing towards sex toys?
Sexist toys are, it seems to me, no more blamed than before. Last year, a large supermarket brand chose to feature a little girl playing cars and a little boy with dolls in their toy catalog.
Let’s face it, this was just a publicity stunt. Such announcements are not going to revolutionize our social codes: regardless of the social class of the parents, few will assume to go to the cash register with a doll in one hand and a little boy in the other. Clichés die hard, and advertisers know it as they continue to exploit them!
These are not angels by gender, but according to the ESAR classification: E for exercise (awakening toys), S for symbolism (imitation toys), A for assembly (construction toys), and R for a rule (board toys).
Each type of play corresponds to a stage in the child’s development to raise a self-confident kid.
The toy librarians are there to guide the choice of parents towards the toys most suited to their child’s needs.
In the toy library, there are also relatively neutral play spaces where children can build their worlds from elements of their choice.
In short, the toy librarians offer toys … to play, quite simply!