Gender has a big part to play in the way your child plays. Of course it will come as no surprise to you to learn that boys love playing rough and tumble and construction and that girls love playing with dolls, but research has indicated that this might not only be to do with the way you bring him up and the friends that he plays with.
Research has shown that boys start to show more interest in looking at ’boyish’ toys even at eighteen months old, and this is long before they have started making friends.
Toy preferences in boys can also be influenced by their parents’ attitudes. Lots of parents are uncomfortable with their little boy playing with obviously girly toys, such as dolls, in public – although they are much less likely to have the same feeling towards a daughter playing with cars.
There is no developmental benefit to actively discouraging your little boy from playing with dolls and girls toys – children naturally learn what they need to through play. Dressing dolls helps develop hand-eye co-ordination as much as construction sets do!
The more open-minded you are towards play and toys, the more open-minded your child is likely to be. Although evidence suggests that no matter how open minded you are, your child, by about the age of 3 ½ will play with what he loves to play with, and, in general, those are toys that reflect his gender.
* Boys and girls play together at an early age – but once they reach play group they tend to make friends of the same gender. This tendency increases the older they get and by the time they reach 7 or 8 they will usually restrict themselves to same sex groups.
* Some differences may reflect real differences- Boys between the ages of 3 and 8 years old are more likely to play rough and tumble games- running and chasing after each other- and in general boy’s play involves a higher level of activity. Experts are also lead to believe that his is genetically influenced as these differences are even seen in animals such as monkeys, puppies and kittens.
* Boys are more restless than girls – They don’t mind doing painting and craft activities but they find it harder to settle down so need help with maintaining attention. You can help by limiting distractions like TV or radio, and also by giving them an opportunity to let off steam first.
* Quiet games for boys - Think about construction kits, blocks, cars and action figures.
* Pretend - When boys pretend to be someone else it is usually an action hero, and their world of little people is more likely to have cars or other vehicles than girls worlds which are often concerned with fashion and home.