Gender neutral toys: are they better for children?

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The ongoing discussion about gender norms and roles in today’s society has led many parents to question whether they should be supplying their kids with gender neutral toys. Despite the fervor and heated debate that often defines disputes surrounding gender in the public sphere, questions about gender and your children don’t have to spiral out of control. Today’s parents have enough on their plates without having to worry about the gender of their kid’s toys; here’s everything you need to know about gender neutral toys so that you can get back to raising your kids.

If you’ve been browsing the shelves of retail stores over the past few years and have kept a diligent eye on the digital offerings of massive e-commerce empires like Amazon, you’ll have noticed that gender neutral toys are becoming more common. As society has finally opened up to broader debate about such things as gender norms, gender neutrality itself is becoming more mainstream, and many children’s toys in this day and age aren’t marketed to a particular gender.

Take Target’s recent efforts, for instance, to offer new kids collections that are gender neutral. Whether it’s their clothing, school supplies, or the toys they bring with them everywhere, today’s kids are receiving more and more gender-neutral gifts, toys, and tools. Target’s pivot to gender neutral collections of clothing and toys for kids hasn’t been matched by every other retailer, however, and some parents are torn with indecision when it comes to this topic.

Many parents who are unfamiliar with the recent changes to societal gender standards are uncertain of what they’re doing when they’re offering their kids gender-neutral toys. Many adults who received toys that were marketed explicitly through gender in the past – like “action figures” for boys and “dolls” for girls – don’t want to break precedent. As a matter of fact, the toys your children use don’t really need genders, and kids actually prefer to play with just about anything.

What all parents need to realize is that the gender of the toy in question doesn’t matter – rather, what’s important is how well your child can use that toy to expand their imagination and develop in a healthy fashion through play. The backlash that some retailers like Target have been facing over their pivot to gender neutral toys is entirely unwarranted; science reminds us that there are no developmental problems stemming from giving a boy a “girl’s toy” or vice versa, were there ever such things in the first place.

If there’s one lesson that parents need to take home with them, it’s that you need to let your children play with the toys that make them happy. Rather than rubber-stamping the identities of your children and trying to mold them into the kinds of people you want them to be, it’s important that children are able to develop freely and come to terms with their creativity. The slow but steady rise of gender-neutral toys is being met with more joy by one group than any other – kids.

As long as kids are kids, they will always want colorful and fun toys to play with, which parents can get from their preferred Grimms toy store. Denying your son the opportunity to play with something because it’s pink or refusing to purchase something for your daughter because it has a hint of blue, will do much more developmental harm to children in the long run than categorizing their toys by colors that were picked for their respective genders by marketers decades ago. As long as parents feel the toys they’re giving their kids are safe and enjoyable, they should nurse no doubts about the gender of said toys.

Doing such a thing is easier said than done, however; despite the widespread pivot to gender neutral toys in recent years, many parents still struggle with giving their children toys that are free from the restrictions of past eras. Parents who are struggling with finding proper gender-neutral toys should take to the digital world; after all, the world of e-commerce was tailor made to satisfy such growing niches as gender neutral toys and entertainment for kids.

Parent’s shouldn’t just stop at the toybox, but should rather emphasize the importance of creativity and self-expression in all realms of life. Don’t be nervous if your daughter wants to play a traditional “boy’s game” like football or if your son is interested in something pink, but instead encourage them and equip them with what they need to thrive and develop fully. There’s a lot of chatter about gender neutrality and gender norms in today’s society, but parents who are concerned about gender neutral toys for their kids are looking for worry in the wrong place.

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