Do Gender-Based Toys Affect Children?

Parents may wonder if gender-based toys affect their children. There is a debate among the pediatric and scientific communities regarding whether gender-based toys is stereotyping. Another factor in the gender-based toys debate is whether they give children a narrow view of how each sex should dress, how they should act, and what duties each sex should have.

Judith Elaine Blakemore, professor of psychology and associate dean of Arts and Sciences for Faculty Development at Indiana University−Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana researched the impact of gender-based toys on children. She says [1]:

“Strongly gender-typed toys might encourage attributes that aren’t ones you actually want to foster. For girls, this would include a focus on attractiveness and appearance, perhaps leading to a message that this is the most important thing—to look pretty. For boys, the emphasis on violence and aggression (weapons, fighting, and aggression) might be less than desirable in the long run.”

Based on what Dr. Blakemore has said, parents and teachers should provide children with balance. Give children a choice of both boy and girl-based toys and allow them an opportunity to play with both. A child may prefer one type over the other, while another will play with both equally. The important thing is that you are giving them the choice and are not forcing them to fit in a specific gender box.

If a parent gives their child a gender-based toy, they will either play with it or not. Children are very good at only playing with toys they are interested in. Parents should not worry if their son wants an Easy Bake Oven; he may simply be interested in cooking.

To answer the question, “What effect do gender-based toys have on children,” it will only affect your child as much as you allow it to. The only toys that should be limited are those that encourage violent behavior and an unhealthy focus on domestic duties and appearances. With that being said, parents should allow children to play with toys that interest them, no matter if they are gender-based or not. Then let your children do what kids do best: have fun.

[1] NAEYC, What the Research Says: Gender-Typed Toys,

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14 Responses to “Do Gender-Based Toys Affect Children?”

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  1. I think a lot of people focu son the color of toys and tend to forget about the function and learning that can be done. The Easy Bake Oven is a classic example!


  2. Definitely something every parent will need to face. For us; gender based toys really don't matter. We let our kids choose what they like. Honestly, my oldest son likes to help me in the kitchen. Am I worried about how that will affect him? No, I think he will be more well balanced in life if he knows how to cook. He has a good healthy balance with the cooking and his love for typical boy toys like super heroes, cars, legos, and science kits. 


    My daughter loves her brothers Lego toys and action figures. Do we freak out and take them away and tell her she can only play with girl toys? Heck no!! She has a good balance of girl and boy toys at her disposal and she is allowed to play with what she wants. In the end I think it will make for a good balance. 

    You are right about limiting the violent and aggression toys. Those DO affect our children in a negative light. 

  3. Amiyrah says:

    I'm a big believer in gender neutral toys, or allowing the opposite gender to partake in play of the other genders toys. After working with kids since I was 12 and now having a boy and a girl, I don't see any issue with girls playing with cars or boys playing with dolls. I still don't understand why there is such a stigma around this.

  4. shelly says:

    I wish they'd market cooking toys more to both sexes than just girls.  Boys actually like to cook too.  But a lot of the toys are pink and geared toward girls.  

  5. Paula Schuck says:

    My daughters are total opposites. I am a big believer in letting them choose toys that they are interested in. My oldest always wanted dolls, but I provided her with other toys too. My youngest loves puzzles and cars. I always buy my nephews dolls when they are little to let them explore their nurturing side. I see no harm in that. Only good things come from helping a child learn what they like and are good at. 

  6. Dear Crissy says:

    This is an interesting topic, especially since my son asked for a tea set this Christmas. Not that I think tea sets are necessarily geared toward girls, but when you look for them online, they are almost all PINK! 

  7. so agree with this about you make it what it is.  we have 1 girl and 2 boys in the house.  The first being the girl.  we did not restrict anyone from playing with eachother's games or toys.  I feel they are better adjusted to having friends in the opposite sex b/c they can play nicely:)

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