Can Gender-Specific Toys Negatively Affect Child Development?

gender specific toys

By Original: User:pschemp – Image:Combotrans.png, redrawn by myself, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Because the world is making incredible advances in linking the male or female gap in schooling and learning, work, politics, along with other areas of everyday living, the toy market seems to be have been overlooked about. Most toy stores today are broken into 2 different sections, in which a girly pink area is packed with toy barbies, kitchen sets, cosmetics packages, and home maintenance toys, while a blue section includes toys like blocks, soldier figures, chemistry sets, mini copters, and trains.

Some toy retailers even tag their areas “boys” or “girls” and carry in all of them gender-specific toys. Could this type of marketing help to make toy buying much easier or simply result in bad consequences? Well, because it so happens, gender-specific toys can include damaging thoughts in kids and also slow down their development.

Here’s a quick look at how gender-specific toys can negatively affect child development.

Gender-Typed Toys Can Encourage Sexist Attributes

Studies show that children will naturally go for toys they believe are intended for their gender. This choice for toys becomes so in-built that kids who deviate from their designated choices get ridiculed by others. As a result, a gender divide is created right from an early age. For instance, girl toys are mostly associated with physical attractiveness, nurturing, and housework play where little girls host tea parties or mimic doing household chores. 

Boy toys, on the other hand, focus on competition, violence, danger, and excitement. This gender stereotyping of toys limits the skills and hobbies children feel they are allowed to follow by sending messages such as girls should stick to nurturing and housework duties while boys are encouraged to go for more challenging roles. Once this way of thinking is ingrained in children, reversing it becomes difficult since beliefs and values gained at this young age become deeply rooted.

Gender Specific Toys Can Interfere with Child Development

Toys are more than playthings as they have a powerful influence on children’s creative response, thinking, and interaction with fellow children. Girl toys tend to lean towards developing interpersonal skills and enhancing imagination, while boy toys encourage creative thinking, problem solving, and “roughing it out” skills. While both set of skills are good to have, both genders get to miss out on the skills the other gets to develop when playing with gender specific toys.
Children conform to what their world tells them. So, eliminating gender specific toys and replacing them with neutral ones can help get rid of the harmful stereotypes that are being sold today. Several initiatives and campaigns across the world have already come up asking people and toy stores alike to embrace the idea of gender-neutral toys.