There has been many debates in the press over the last few months about the marketing of children’s clothing, shoes and toys. I am shocked at some people’s responses to the debates on social media. I appreciate that there are people who will disagree with the views being put across but I don’t think some people realise how important any of this is to our children’s lives and how much of an affect this has on their development.
There is a documentary on tomorrow night on BBC 2 called No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? They are doing an experiment to see how primary school children react to life without gender stereotyping.
According to scientific research, it is said that our brains start off all the same, there is no such thing as a female brain and a male brain they are completely neutral and they are moulded and changed by our life experiences. This means, we as parents, grandparents, teachers, guardians or anyone involved with children should make sure we are offering our kids the chance to experience as many different things as possible, so they are brought up with a completely open mind. Don’t just buy them toys you think they should be playing with as that’s what you think little boys or girls like, think beyond that. As adults, we can do pretty much anything we want, woman have just about the same rights as men, give or take a few things but I don’t want to get into a massive debate about women’s rights and sexism. I want to see if we can change the way our children view the world from a young age and encourage them to aspire to be anything they want to be. If a girl dreams of becoming a builder when she is older than she can, but part of me thinks that if she’s not had a tool box to play with or been encouraged to play outside with mud and dig holes, she will probably grow up thinking that’s something she shouldn’t do or can’t do as she’s never been able to try it. How many of us are afraid of doing things we haven’t tried before? The programme on BBC 2 shows that kids have a very sexist view on the world even before they have left primary school! The boys think they are smarter than girls and girls think boys are stronger, this is crazy that they already think like this and it is the influences from media and the people around them which have made them look at the world in this way.
I don’t want my niece growing up to think her cousin is smarter and stronger than her, I want her to think she is just as smart and just as strong as him, because she is!
I admit we are guilty of buying toys for our little boy which we think he should be playing with, trains, dinosaurs, cars, tool kits, but why not buy him a doll, a pushchair, a tea set? Since starting this blog I have started to buy him more of a variety of toys, including tea sets and pushchairs. I am thinking of buying him the Ikea dolls house for Christmas as I think it will help him learn about everyday objects in the family home and it would be good for his development. Dinosaurs and superhero figures are great fun but encourage a more violent type of play, as he copies what he sees on cartoons and films. All types of play are important as our world is filled with so many different things. Let them explore outside, play dress up, make up games, encourage role-play, set up tea parties with their favourite toys or create pretend shops with items from around the house. Explore other types of play too which let them use their imagination. We need to teach our kids that they can do anything. We need to give them the confidence to try new things and help them see past the stereotypical world we live in.
‘Every child deserves the same opportunities at life, but unless we start treating them differently that will never happen.’ Dr Abdelmoneim